Durban’s warm Sunday night echoed with the German supporters’ battle cries for a long time. Even without their captain, Michael Ballack, the German attackers picked the Australian defence apart, winning 4-0.
Many people doubted that Germany could gather a team that would worth its great name and history. All the doubting Thomases, including this reporter, were proven wrong, of course, and the Australians had to play the role of guinea pigs. The German team of 2010 reminded many an observer of the team that won the 1990 World Cup, when they destroyed Yugoslavia in their first game.
While Australians managed to start the game with vigour and achieve some penetration of Germany’s back four, it took Germans only eight minutes to render Aussie dreams a nightmare. And after Podolski forced the ball into the net, there appeared to only one team of significance on the pitch: Germany. Even as the Aussies started the second half with some half-chances, their progress was interrupted by the harshly given red card to Tim Cahill. The game turned into one-way traffic afterwards, with the only one unknown fact: how many more goals would Germany slot past Schwarzer.
The match was depressing for the Australian side for one more reason: their ageing team will obviously have to be almost completely re-engineered if they are to have any future, or they may find themselves thinking of days of Viduka and Kewel as never-to-be-repeated highs.
Photo: Australia’s fans watch the 2010 World Cup Group D soccer match against Germany at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. They didn’t have much to cheer for. June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hanna
As it was mauling hapless the Aussies, Germany’s merciless attack was also sending warning signs to Serbia and Ghana, their next opponents. The question, of course, is how much of this huge victory is due to German brilliance and how much of it was because the Aussies were simply bad.
There is only one way to find out for the Serbians and Ghanaians. And for Brazil, Spain, Italy, Argentina…
Here are this reporters notes:
Australia: Mark Schwarzer, Luke Wilkshire, Craig Moore, Lucas Neill, Scott Chipperfield, Vinnie Grella, Carl Valeri, Brett Emerton, Tim Cahill, Jason Culina, Richard Garcia.
Germany: Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Arne Friedrich, Holger Badstuber, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose.
Man of the match
Mesut Ozil (Germany)
- 3rd minute: Garcia misses a great chance for Australia, who started the game guns blazing. The Germans are slightly bewildered.
- 7th minute: Miroslav Klose misses a good opportunity as Schwarzer is up stopping to his 15 metre shot.
- 8th minute: A heartbreak for Australia as Podolski rockets the ball into Schwarzer, who cannot deal with the shot’s raw power. The Germans are 1-0 and the Ozzies are starting to feel uncomfortable.
Let’s see if Ozzies can come back into the game, which promises to be a good one.
- 12th minute: Germany’s Ozil gets the game’s first yellow card for diving. Well done to the referee.
- 17th minute: Podolski’s cross is promising and with three white shirts waiting in the box could have been dangerous, but he sends it too close to Schwarzer, who scoops it comfortably.
The Australian defence appears a bit shaken and it doesn’t instil much confidence. From their point, the Germans also should not be very comforted by their own defence.
- 20th minute: Another good attempt by the Ozzie attack, with Garcia sending it skywards. But the fact is they are still finding big holes in German defence lines.
- 24th minute: The Germans organise a smashing counter-attack only to see Klose miss a sitter, with Schwarzer already beaten.
- 26th minute: Klose this time scores, 2-0 for Germany! Schwarzer makes a terrible mistake in trying to cut the cross, only to see Klose already sending the ball into the net.
Photo: Germany’s Miroslav Klose (R) scores past Australia’s goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer during the 2010 World Cup Group D soccer match at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
The Australian defence resembles a Swiss cheese – way too many holes in it tonight. The Germans appear composed, powerful and unstoppable, sending a strong message to all the doubters, including this reporter.
- 31st minute Australian captain Lucas Neill pulls the ball from its way into the goal after Ozil lobed Schwarzer, and it appeared that another German goal is certainty.
- 35th minute: Another promising attack by the Australians. The German defence is not the safest in the world and every team playing against them should have that in mind.
- 36th minute: Neill is the only Australian defender playing well tonight.
- 39th minute: Khedira sends captain Lahm’s cross above the crossbar. The Germans are drilling through the Australian defence way to easily.
- 40th minute: Ozil gets in front of Schwarzer, who smartly leaves the young German defender to lose his footing and miss a great chance.
The first half ends with the Germans holding their head high. With mathematical precision they dismembered the Australian defence and used the vast spaces that their opponents allowed them to rule. Unless the Australian team changes its ways, the second half will see Germans scoring many more goals.
- 46th minute: Lucas Neill picks up a yellow card for jamming his knee into Klose’s back. Silly start, perhaps borne of frustration.
- 48th minute: Australians scream penalty as Mertesacker handles the ball in the box. The referee is not interested, but the Oz guys are getting energised.
- 51st minute: Holman’s shot flies wide and low from the German goal, but the southern Hemisphere guys look good since the beginning of the second half.
- 54th minute: Germany’s Muller misses a good chance as he shoots above the crossbar, unimpeded from 16 metres.
Photo: Referee Marco Rodriguez of Mexico flashes the red card to Australia’s Tim Cahill (R) after his tackle on Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger (bottom) during their 2010 World Cup Group D soccer match at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
- 56th minute: Tim Cahill, Australian and Everton forward, gets a straight red card from the Mexican referee for a relatively innocent tackle. Things are not looking good for the Aussies.
- 60th minute: Klose and Khedira miss twin chances that were easier to score than miss.
Germany dominates since Cahill was kicked out. They are dancing around the Australian penalty box in a manner that resembles the way a cat plays with a mortally injured mouse.
- 66th minute: A brilliant link-up between Klose and Podolski sees Klose missing the post, but not by much.
There’s a palpable feeling that the Germans can score the next goal any time they want, and they just do that as these words are typed. Muller scores a brilliant shot from 14 metres that hits Schwarzer’s right-hand post and into the net. Now 3-0, the result does look well-deserved for the Germans.
- 69th minute: Klose is replaced by Stuttgart’s Cacau. The German coach is already thinking about the next game against Serbia.
Photo: Germany’s Cacau scores a goal against Australia during a 2010 World Cup Group D soccer match at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Rogan Ward
- 71st minute: Cacau scores Germany’s fourth goal after being served brilliantly by Ozil. The Australians appear knocked out. They are probably wishing the Mexican referee would end their misery right now.
- 73rd: Gomez replaces Ozil, who had a brilliant game.
The final 20 minutes are spent mostly by both sides waiting the game out. The Aussies are demoralised, while the Germans don’t want any injuries.
By Branko Brkic
Main photo: Germany’s Lukas Podolski (R) celebrates after scoring a goal with teammate Sami Khedira during their 2010 World Cup Group D soccer match against Australia at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hanna