Jul 102010
 

Uruguay 2-3 Germany
Edinson Cavani (28′) Diego Forlan (51′) Thomas Muller (19′) Marcell Jansen (56′) Sami Khedira (82′)

The 3rd-4th places matches at World Cups have produced an average of almost four goals per game and the 2010 edition did not disappoint. As expected the game was pretty open. Germany started a changed side with Miroslav Klose on the bench with a knock and Dennis Aogo, Hans-Jorg Butt and Marcell Jansen starting in place of Lukas Podolski, Manuel Neuer and Philip Lahm. Uruguay were much closer to the full squad with (the constantly booed) Luis Suarez back. The game was open if not spectacular. Muller’s opening goal from a rebounded shot was followed by Cavani for a half time tie. Diego Forlan provided a lead for Uruguay with another rather long range shot that fooled the German goalkeeper. Marcell Jansen tied it soon after when a high cross was missed by both Fernando Muslera and Diego Lugano. The game was lively and saves were required by both goalies and before the game could go to extra time Sami Khedira headed in over the hands of Muslera and into the far corner. And so the Germans took third place for the second World Cup in a row.
Of note, Klose was not able to attempt to tie or break the record for most World Cup goals scored and Brazil’s Ronaldo will probably be holding on to that record for a while yet. Also, Canadian Hector Vergara became the record holder for most World Cup matches as a referee, linesman or assistant at 14.

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Jul 072010
 

Spain 1-0 Germany
Carles Puyol (73′)

Thomas Muller was missing from this second semi-final due to suspension and that put the so far successful German 4-2-3-1 in doubt. Piotr Trochowski got the start instead. Spain featured Pedro and David Villa with Fernando Torres on the bench. The early signs were not positive for Germany as they sat back and Spain deployed their possession and passing game. Jerome Boateng was not having a comfortable night as Sergio Ramos was taking advantage of the right wing. The game was slow with the Germans surprisingly not pressing for the ball. The first half featured very little real chances on Manuel Neuer and the feeling was that the Spaniards needed to convert their possession into something or regret it later. The second half showed glimmers of liveliness but again the Spanish were playing their game without getting their goal. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski were rarely seen and would perhaps be the disappointments of the night. Joachim Low, the German coach, seemed to realize mistakes and made two changes which he probably wasn’t expecting to need to. Marcell Jansen and Toni Kroos came on for Jerome Boateng and Piotr Trochowski. The game changed little however and it was left to Carles Puyol to show determination as he rose ahead of team mate Gerard Pique to head in from a corner. Germany woke up and opened up leaving wide open spaces behind them. Pedro could have easily made it 2-0 if he had taken advantage of one of the openings. Amid apologies to his team mates he was soon replaced by David Silva. Germany came close to punishing Spanish misses but never really too close and so Spain will play Holland for what will be a first World Cup crown for either team.

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Jul 032010
 

Germany 4-0 Argentina
Thomas Muller (3′) Miroslav Klose (68′, 89′) Arne Friedrich (74′)

Germany exposed the defensive frailties of Argentina and at the same time managed to frustrate the South Americans to shots straight into the hands of Manuel Neuer. A defense still featuring Nicolas Burdisso and Martin Demichelis in the center and Nicolas Otamendi on one side was exposed as early as the third minute when it failed to deal with a German freekick. Germany’s 4-2-3-1 featuring Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, and Thomas Muller behind a lone forward has been trouble for most and with the aid of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Samir Khedira did its job and even more against the Argentinians. On the other side Lionel Messi had a World Cup he would like to forget as in this game he was limited to moves far away from the German goal and when he did manage to get closer two or three German players blocked any progress. Carlos Tevez worked hard as usual but didn’t really come close to the required. Gonzalo Higuain’s World Cup ended almost as disappointingly as the rest because the German defense did an even better job than before considering the talent it was facing.

Spain 1-0 Paraguay
Xabi Alonso (pen miss 61′) David Villa (83′) Oscar Cardozo (pen miss 59′)

The first half produced little as Spain were frustrated by the Paraguayans who had made six changes from the team that started against Japan days earlier. The new starters which included the likes of Jonathan Santana and Dario Veron were solid but if the changes were to inspire more goals it failed to materalize. The second half seemed to be headed in the same direction as the first but a series of back to back to events added excitement as well as question marks. First Gerard Pique granted a penalty to Paraguay when he almost blatantly held on to Cardozo. The same Paraguayan took charge of the penalty and had it saved, some players seemingly insisting on shooting low and off center. Barely two minutes later David Villa found a 50-50 penalty and Xabi Alonso scored, but the ref demanded a re-take (because of players moving into the box early?) and this time it was saved. Spain found slightly more impetus from the events but it took them a long time to convert. Substitute Pedro ran into the area and shot towards the corner of the net, his ball hit the post and came back to the feet of Villa, his shot in turn bounced off the post and just made it inside the goal at the other post. Spain held on and made their way to a semi final meeting with the Germans.

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Jun 272010
 

Germany 4-1 England
Miroslav Klose (20′) Lukas Podolski (32′) Thomas Muller (67′, 70′) Matthew Upson (37′)

England were outplayed but also undone by an event that will be talked about for years to come. Germany started brighter and showed more skills. It wasn’t long before a high ball was misjudged by John Terry and allowed Miroslav Klose to run, out muscle Matthew Upson and score. Soon after Lucas Podolski out ran the English defense and tucked the ball into the very far corner. The second goal awoke the English team and the response came. Upson jumped well to meet a high ball and was quicker to it than the outstretched hand of German goalie Manuel Neuer. Minutes later Lampard shot fiercely off the crossbar the ball landed on the floor before Neuer scrambling back grabbed it. Many were sure that it was 2-2 but crucially not the linesman. Replays showed that England and English fans were correct and the ball had landed easily a feet or two inside the goal line. The second half started more tamely and it took classic counterattacking prowess for two more German goals to finish the World Cup for the English. The Lampard ‘disallowed’ goal now becomes the stuff of legend and much talk will follow recalling the 1966 World Cup final featuring the same two teams that had a somewhat similar non-goal. Except in that case England were given the goal that may not have been.

Argentina 3-1 Mexico
Carlos Tevez (26′, 52′) Gonzalo Higuain (33′) Javier Hernandez (71′)

A repeat of the same fixture four years ago produced a similar but somewhat less lopsided result. back then Maxi Rodriguez scored a goal to eliminate Mexico in extra time. This time the game was over by the 52nd minute. Mexico worked hard, had a ball come off the cross bar but their efforts were mostly long range with Carlos Salcido doing a lot of shooting. The First goal came from Carlos Tevez, replays showed him to be offside and the Mexicans spent a good two minutes protesting, to no avail of course. Minutes later Gonzalo Higuain doubled the lead after a Ricardo Osorio mistake gifted the ball to the Argentinian. Early in the second half the game was almost done when Tevez scored one of the better goals of the World Cup with a shot high into the top corner that eluded Mexican goalie Oscar Perez. Argentina lost a lot of interest after that and allowed Mexico to cut the lead to two goals when Javier Hernandez, getting a first start, grabbed one back. The game finished with a few more semi-exciting plays and a few semi-rough challenges. And now Germany awaits Argentina.

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Jun 232010
 

England 1-0 Slovenia
Jermain Defoe (23′)

The English entered the game needing something out of this last group match, Slovenia were somewhat more comfortable but not at all assured of a place. The English started Jermaine Defoe instead of Emile Heskey and did well. Slovenia were pegged back often and it wasn’t long before the Defoe switch paid off as he scored well from a James Milner cross. Samir Handanovic was busier than David James in goal and while sometimes unconvincing did make a few good saves. Rooney was still having a tough World Cup and while a part of the triumph not a big part of it. Slovenia’s chances at progressing were still alive until the last minute’s events at the other group match between Algeria and USA.

USA 1-0 Algeria
Landon Donovan (90′)

The US were victims of questionable refereeing once again as a Clint Dempsey goal was wrongly called back for offside, otherwise the game was not exactly one sided as the Algerian did threaten somewhat too. As the game was seemingly heading to a 0-0 tie, a result that would not be not be enough for the US, a goal came. In the very last moments of the game Landon Donovan put his leg to the ball which had rebounded off the Algerian goalie. The American had made his way into the penalty box and took advantage to shoot the ball in almost unimpeded. US had somehow finished top of group C and avoided one European giant – Germany – in the second round.

Germany 1-0 Ghana
Mesut Ozil (60′)

Both teams had a good shot at qualifying. The game was open befitting the styles of the teams, coaches Joachim Low and Milan Rajevac both playing to their players’ strength at this World Cup. Ozil in partuicular was doing well for the Germans and tested Ghana goalie, Richard Kingson, more than once and finally managed to beat him as well with a nicely taken shot from the edge of the penalty box. The likes of Kwadwo Asamoah tested German goalie Manuel Neuer as well, mostly on weaker efforts. In the end the loss didn’t matter to the Ghanaians as they got an arguably favorable second round match up vs the US while Germany got to face England.

Australia 2-1 Serbia
Tim Cahill (69′) Brett Holman (73′) Marko Pantelic (84′)

Serbia had given themselves a chance by beating Germany in their previous match. Even Australia had a chance if they could beat Serbia comprehensively and have either Ghana and especially Germany lose comprehensively in their match against each other. Mark Schwarzer stood tall in the Aussie goal for the second game in a row and wasn’t beaten until after the Socceroos had managed their own two goals. Both teams exited the competition at full time and Serbia’s promising and impressive qualification campaign meant nothing, and not for the first time.

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Jun 182010
 

Germany 0-1 Serbia
Milan Jovanovic (38′)

The game started with a torrent of yellow cards. Germans and equally the Serbians and there neutrals were entitled to question the consistency if not the legitimacy of some of the cards shown. This soon led to a second yellow for Klose inside 40 minutes and before any player could compose himself Serbia went ahead. Krasic’s crossed ball was headed back towards goal and an unmarked Milan Jovanovic scored. The Serbians gained confidence and threatened more. Germany followed this by throwing in offensive players, in Mario Gomez for example. All the work seemed to be undone when yet another Serbian player, Vidic, handled the ball in the penalty box. The subsequent penalty was taken by Podolski but Stojkovic saved it well. A slew of close chances followed by both teams but in the end Mallenco, the Spanish referee, probably had more influence on the game than any official should have.


Slovenia 2-2 USA
Valter Birsa (13′) Zlatan Ljubijankic (42′) Landon Donovan (48′) Michael Bradley (82′)

The early clashes were slightly to Slovenia’s favor and it wasn’t long before the Slovenian midfielder shot from around 30 yards and left US goalie Tim Howard completely flat footed. What followed was somewhat of a stalemate that had Handanovic making a few acrobatic saves. US seemed to sense more was needed and started to exploit some questionable Slovenian defending. Slovenians however surprised again, as Zlatan Ljubijankic just avoided being offside and scored. The second half had barely started when Landon Donovan took advantage of a defensive lapse, courtesy of Bostjan Cesar, and shot hard into the roof of the net from a tight angle. This was beautifully taken as he was only a handful of yards away from the goal post. USA piled on the pressure but Slovenia had a few of their own. One of the US chances finally paid dividends as Bradley shot well into the back of the net. The US had a third goal questionably called back soon after and so the game ended with one point for each team.

England 0-0 Algeria

The game had both teams changing their goalkeepers for respective blunders. The game started with Algeria with better possession but nothing really came of it. England took brief control towards the end of the half and they themselves only troubled the relatively inexperienced Algeria goalie only once or twice. Any fluency and passing was missing form the English team with Rooney in particular contributing very little. The second half followed much the same pattern with England giving away possession rather too easily at times. The few times England threatened things just didn’t happen for them. Some credit goes to Rais M’Bolhi, the aforementioned goalie, Nadir Belhadj, Rafik Halliche and the entire Algerian team for keeping their cool. On the English side this was a disappointing performance not unlike the much maligned Steve McLaren coaching era. And so back to the drawing board for current coach Fabio Capello.

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Jun 132010
 

Algeria 0-1 Slovenia
Robert Koren (79′)

The first half featured a bevy of giveaways that suggested two nervous and/or weak teams. The second half was slightly better but seemed to be going nowhere. It featured the Algerian Ghezzal being sent off after a second yellow. Just as the earlier feeling of the game ending as a tie was about to materialize Chaouchi let a not too powerful shot go in. He failed to block and the ball almost went through him.

Serbia 0-1 Ghana
Asamoah Gyan (pen 84′)

Ghana missing Essien were intriguing to watch. Both teams showed some tactical ability and were somewhat cancelling each other out. The second half saw more chances. Krasic, Zigic and Jovanovic had acceptable but not great games and on the Ghanaian side Asamoah Gyan was doing well. Another second yellow game incident saw Lukovic out at the 74th minute. And again the game seemed to be heading for a scoreless tie when Kuzmanovic handled the ball needlessly in the box. It resulted in the only goal of the game. Not for the first time Serbia did not help their own cause.

Germany 4-0 Australia
Lukas Podolski (8′) Miroslav Klose (26′) Thomas Muller (67′) Cacau (70′)

The young Germans were their steely selves and at least for this opening game not only kept their nerves but were disciplined and executed well. The Socceroos were poor in dealing with the superiority of the midfield and offense of the Germans and were time and again running to cover raids by Podolski, Muller and Ozil. Tim Cahill was sent off with a straight red in a somewhat questionable call but nevertheless Australia mustered few and far between chances and Neuer, in the German goal, did not have a difficult night.

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