It is the cruellest of the matches that any team has to play, after the heartbreak of losing their hopes of winning the World Cup just days before. In the end, Germany’s young machine kept its concentration just a bit longer then the fabulous Forlan and Co, winning 3-2.
Most of the third-place matches in the World Cups are played by the second stringers; the top stars are usually devastated – and often injured – after losing in the semi-finals. While the German team were missing an injured Klose, Podolski and Lahm, the Uruguayans signalled their commitment by fielding their strongest team, with Lugano, Fucile and (a very-much-hated-by-the-crowd) Louis Suarez all coming back to play.
Another characteristic of the 3rd-place games is that they are high-scoring and entertaining events. Well, the Port Elizabeth game on Saturday night was never going to be different. Both teams displayed their best traits: Uruguay delighted by its precise passes and wild imagination, while the Germans were great in finding the shortest way to the goal. And the game they produced was never dull, despite the pouring rain that has troubled most of the games played in PE. It had everything: wild swings, great goals (Forlan’s volley is a contender for the best goal of the tournament), great passes and two sets of players that just wouldn’t let go.
The young German team was, by all accounts, a great discovery this year. They hadn’t played well for years and after captain Michael Ballack was injured in May, the future looked grim for them. And yet, as we mentioned before, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to them. Instead of relying on Ballack, the youngsters had to do it themselves. And they discovered that they are actually better team without Ballack. This will be a formidable team in future and we can’t wait to see them develop.
Uruguay are the heroes of this tournament. Forlan, Suarez and compatriots played their hearts out against their fancied opponents. Okay, they are not very much loved around here after both defeating Bafana Bafana and squeezing past Ghana, but the reality is that their rather unheralded team played wonderful football that was always positive and good-looking. Forlan’s goals were as beautiful as they were intelligent. Uruguayans will go home with their heads held high.
Here are the reporter’s notes:
Uruguay: Muslera, Lugano, Fucile, Caceres, Godin, Rios, Maxi Pereira, Perez, Forlan, Cavani, Suarez.
Germany: Butt, Boateng, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Aogo, Jansen, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Oezil, Mueller, Cacau.
Man of the match
- 7th minute: Forlan’s free kick from 22 metres curls well into Butt’s upper corner, but his shot flies just above it.
The start is very energetic. These two teams did lose their semi-finals, but they clearly want to win this match.
- 10th minute: Friedrich’s incredible header from Oezil’s corner hits the crossbar, with Uruguayan defenders spiriting the ball out of danger. A great beginning to this match. Germany’s second-stringers are obviously very keen to prove they are as good as the top stars.
- 18th minute: Germany score! For the umpteenth time at this tournament, Schweinsteiger’s shot from 25 metres was strong and very precise, except that Jabulani decided to swerve wickedly at the last moment, leaving Muslera to stop it with his body. The inevitable rebound landed straight at the feet of the galloping Mueller, who easily scored his fifth goal of the tournament. If you needed any more proof of the disastrous influence of the Adidas-made, Fifa-approved ball, watch the re-runs of the goal. And if you still don’t see the problem, a visit to you nearest optician would be a great idea.
Photo: Germany’s Thomas Mueller scores a goal during their 2010 World Cup third place playoff soccer match against Uruguay in Port Elizabeth July 10, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
- 25th minute: Suarez and Forlan combine for a good chance for the latter, but Mertesacker’s timely intervention stopped him as he was about to score.
- 27th minute Uruguay score! Diego Perez managed to disposes, of all people, Schweinsteiger, then quickly found Suarez, who in turn sent the prefect pass into the feet of Cavani, who, once in front of Butt, coolly slotted the ball into his corner. The match is back at equilibrium.
- 31st minute: Suarez does some more nifty footwork and sends a really good ball to Cavani again, but he is dispossessed at the last moment. Great move.
It appears that, so far, both defences are more or less going easy on the opposing attackers. Even if this game decides who will get the bronze medal, it looks like it will remain what it has been throughout history, a gentleman’s game, full of flare and goals.
From the 32nd to the 42nd minute, while the game is lively and played at a good pace, 10 minutes go by without much happening. It would appear that Cavani’s goal has established that both teams are dangerous and that caution is advisable. That, and the fact that rain is pelting the PE stadium
- 42nd minute: Suarez misses a great chance as he emerges alone in front of Butt. From a somewhat acute angle, his shot streaks past the far post. The Germans were very lucky this time.
- 45th minute: Uruguay’s brilliant counter-attack was bungled by Maxi Pereira, or well-defended by Boateng, depending on who you talk to.
- 47th minute: First half ends. Both teams played well and played positively. Pity about the rain and Jabulani.
- 48th minute: Schweinsteiger’s corner is deep and dangerous, but the Uruguayan defence deals with it confidently.
- 48th minute: Forlan finds Cavani, who is suddenly in front of Butt. The German keeper reacts well to intercept the ball, and then Suarez’s shot is deflected into corner by Mertesacker. Great job by the Uruguayan trio.
- 51st minute: Forlan scores a magical goal from the volley from the pass supplied by Álvaro! Butt was completely powerless to stop Forlan’s brilliant shot.
- 56th minute: Germany equalise! Boateng sends a great cross to the right, and Muslera commits a cardinal mistake of misjudging it. The cross literally hit Jansen in the forehead and bounced into the goal. Muslera is having an awful night with Jabulani.
- 60th minute: Uruguay’s counter-attack was dealt at the very last moment by the German defence.
It does look as though there will be more goals tonight.
- 62nd minute: Suarez’s shot from 28 metres is a thunderbolt. Jabulani swerves wickedly in from of him but Butt deals with it competently.
- 65th minute: Forlan is alone in front of Butt again, albeit from a very acute angle. Butt looks like a safe pair of hands tonight.
- 68th minute: Suarez skies his shot from the left-hand side of the penalty box.
- 71st minute: Cacau’s effort from the left side of the penalty box is carbon copy of Suarez’s shot from just a few minutes before. Not something he will be proud of.
- 72nd minute: Kiessling replaces Cacau.
- 75th minute: A great piece of footwork from Kiessling enables him to shoot freely from 14 metres. Muslera produces a great save.
- 78th minute: Maxi Pereira’s long-range free kick is powerful and that’s the only good thing to be said about it.
- 80th minute: Another great cross from Boateng is missed by inches, as Kiessling was in front of Muslera.
- 81st minute: Kroos replaces the goal-scorer Jansen.
- 82nd minute: Germany score again! Oezil’s corner kick produces complete chaos in Uruguay’s defence, with Khedira finally given the opportunity to choose where his header will go. He chose well, and Muslera had no chance of stopping the shot. Uruguay’s defence just stood, watching.
Photo: Germany’s Sami Khedira (3rd L) heads to score against Uruguay during their 2010 World Cup third place playoff soccer match in Port Elizabeth July 10, 2010. REUTERS/Oleg Popov
- 87th minute: A great shot by Boateng from the edge of the penalty box is well saved by Muslera.
Uruguay appear to be deflated by the German’s third goal. It doesn’t look like they’ll be coming back this time.
- 88th minute: Kiessling was alone in front of Muslera, but his shot goes of into the sky.
- 92nd minute: A free kick for Uruguay from 19 metres. The last act for Uruguay. Forlan hits the crossbar!
The match ends. Germany has won the bronze medal at 2010 World Cup.
Main photo: Germany’s soccer team celebrate after the 2010 World Cup third place playoff soccer match against Uruguay in Port Elizabeth July 10, 2010. REUTERS/Oleg Popov