Yes, the German feet were ready for a battle today, and I imagine the Aussies at times might have preferred to be trapped in a submarine. The 4-0 rout by the European side was surely painful for Socceroos fans, but you can’t say it wasn’t earned – Germany simply outplayed them. They held 56% of possession – not a huge imbalance, although they made much better use of their time with the ball than Australia did, showing some masterful passing and clever footwork. They outshot Australia 17 to 11, which wouldn’t be such a glaring gap but the shots on goal were 9 to 2, a bit more embarrassing.
Australia almost scored very early off a corner kick, but the chance was blocked, and further chances were few and uninspired. In the 8th minute Lukas Podolski put the Germans in the lead, and Miroslav Klose had a great opportunity to add a second midway through the first half, but sent his shot wide despite being in front of the net. He made up for it minutes later in the 26th after Australian keeper Mark Schwarzer came off his line and was unable to stop the shot. That kind of poor defending was fairly prevalent throughout the game for Australia, a notable exception being Lucas Neill’s quick-thinking clearance of Mesut Ozil’s shot around the 30th. Ozil had already beaten Schwarzer but Neill raced in and got his foot to the ball, sending it skyward.
After the restart, Australia looked a bit more focused and was playing better, but still unable to put anything together. Then in the 56th, Tim Cahill was shown a straight red card for a from-behind tackle on Bastian Schweinsteiger (in the running for Germaniest name on the team). From my point of view, and I’m not totally alone here, the call was unwarranted. Yes, the tackle was a bit late and from behind, but Cahill clearly tried to pull back when he realized the ball had been moved away. He ran into Schweinsteiger with his shins after apparently attempting to curl his legs down and avoid hitting him with his boots. It certainly deserved a yellow, but I felt an ejection was too much, and it proved to be an impassable moment for Australia. They really struggled against the German attack, and looked more and more ragged as the end neared. Germany tacked on two more goals, from Thomas Müller in the 67th and Cacau in the 70th.
Germany is basically guaranteed to win Group D if they keep this up, and will play the second place team in the USA’s Group C in the Round of 16. Which, you know…is something to either think very very hard about, or to completely ignore so as to avoid driving one’s self mad.
Through a desperate need for sleep, I missed today’s other two games – our groupmates’ match ended with Slovenia winning 1-0 over Algeria, the goal coming through a keeper misjudgment. All accounts I’ve heard say both sides were unimpressive and messy, so as much as a draw would have been preferred by US fans, knowing neither team put forth a good display will have to suffice. In the other Group D match, Ghana pulled off a 1-0 victory over Serbia, thanks to a penalty kick given in the 84th minute after a handball in the box by Zdravko Kuzmanovic.