Friday, June 18, 2010

Group D opening games

Ghana 1-0 Serbia

This was an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable game between two quality sides. Both sides fashioned a number of chances but Ghana had distinctly more opportunities than Serbia. Both sides were guilty of being wasteful in front of goal. Had either taken one of their opportunities the whole complexion of the game would have changed. I was impressed by Jovanovic of Serbia and I was also impressed with a Ghanaian midfield which didn't noticeably appear to be missing Michael Essien. Jovanovic looked the most dangerous for Serbia.

The Serbian red card for two bookable offences was a fair call and Serbia looked to close the game out 0-0 after that, but still managed to have a few good chances. The breakthrough in this game finally came with about 5 minutes to go. Ghana were justifiably awarded a penalty - Kuzmanovic raised his arm high to the right and the ball clearly struck his hand. It was an inexplicable moment and Ghana sent the African continent into delirium with a very well taken penalty for a hard earned victory and 3 valuable points.

Germany 4-0 Australia

Germany completely and utterly outclassed Australia with what can only be described as a masterclass. Had the scoreline been 6 or 7 it would not have flattered the gulf between the two sides. Ozil and Mueller were brilliant in the attacking midfield and Podolski and Klose (to some extent) answered their critics. Klose and Podolski have not been in form in domestic football but Podolski continued his brilliant international scoring record for Germany. And Klose, whilst spurning a couple of fantastic chances, bravely scored with a header under the advance of Schwarzer. Practically the whole German team impressed: Khedira might not be spoken of in the same breath as Ozil and Mueller but he sure played like a man filling Ballack's shoes. Cacau and Gomes came on in the second half and both showed why the Germans have strength in depth. Schweinsteiger was strangely quiet but his services were almost rendered unnecessary by the slick verve and passing of the rest of the midfield/attack.

This is a very young German team - and they demonstrated a lack of fear and a large dose of excellence. They made many beautiful runs off the ball which the Aussies failed to pick up which never failed to cause panic in the Aussie box.

Australia on the other hand were woeful - one has to take into account that their poor game contributed to the Germans being able to show them up so much. I couldn't understand why Cahill had been picked as a lone striker when he is far better in the attacking midfield role - it reeked of desperation. The Aussies were run ragged and while 2-0 down even had Cahill sent off. I can understand why the ref gave the decision - he clattered into the German player from behind and took him out. However it was a wholehearted rather than a dirty challenge - there wasn't much strength in the trip and he appeared to be pulling out of the tackle at the moment of impact. It was, to my mind, a little harsh.

On another note I was very pleased to see the ref book two Germans for diving during the game. It's good to get that aspect clamped down on - especially with dives as blatant as those were.

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