Round of 16 Day 2: Argentina and Germany moving on
No real surprises in today’s results: two strong teams continue to roll on, and the officiating continued to induce head-meets-desk collisions around the world.
Probably the best evidence in support of goal-line technology and/or video replays came in the Germany-England match. We’ve seen a few disallowed/non-called goals so far (haven’t we, USMNT fans?) but Frank Lampard’s would-be equalizer being missed was pretty damn egregious:
You can point out the Germany went on to score two more goals, and England couldn’t net another, so it didn’t matter in the end. My thinking on that kind of argument is that you never know how one moment affects the rest of the game. It’s highly likely that the frustration at the call being blown left the English side angry and unable to focus, and that had the goal been correctly awarded and the score tied up, the elation could have given their morale a needed boost and their performance a needed kick in the collective ass. In addition, it’s not just about “did this one call directly affect the outcome of the game” – it’s about players, coaches and fans needing to be able to trust the officials and to know that the outcome of the game is dependent upon the abilities and performances of the teams, not upon the luck of the draw with awful calls. A whistle instead of a yellow here or there is one thing; clear goals being missed or called off is entirely another.
The teams looked fairly even in the beginning, but after Miroslav Klose scored in the 20th thanks in part to a defensive blunder by Matthew Upson, England started to look shaky. Just 12 minutes later Lukas Podolski added a second as the Germans played right through the opposing back line. But England started to kick up the attack, and Upson responded with a goal in the 37th. They continued to press, and then moments later came Lampard’s shot and the stupendously wrong call. In the second half, England was pressing and looked hungry and focused…except for the defense. With two goals knocked in by Thomas Muller in the 67th and 70th minutes, it was clear that England wasn’t going to overcome anything when only half of their team came to play today. A 4-1 loss sends the Three Lions home while Germany moves on to the quarterfinals.
But the early match didn’t hog all the controversy… The second match of the day had its own bad call, this time in the form of a goal being allowed which should have been called off:
Unless you’re looking at this picture with your eyes closed, you can see that Carlos Tevez is blatantly offside as Lionel Messi is taking his shot. As the ball neared Tevez, those two defenders dropped back so that when the ball was actually headed in, the three of them were about even. But of course, that’s not when you make the call, and this goal should have been disallowed. Instead, it gave the Argentine side a 1-0 lead in the 26th and led to a meeting of the minds (and probably dirty words) around the ref and linesman at the touchline.
Again, it’s not necessarily true that this bad call directly impacted the outcome – the game ended in a 3-1 Argentina victory – but it’s also impossible to know the indirect impact. Even as a US supporter who relishes the rivalry between our guys and the Mexican squad, this still bothers me as a soccer fan in general. The clear frustration from the Mexican players showed itself when Rafa Marquez was booked for a foul on Messi right after play restarted, followed by a second Argentine goal from Gonzalo Higuain in the 33rd off a sloppy play from Ricardo Osorio. At this point in the match, the South Americans were not dominating, and yet they were ahead 2-0.
Mexico lost their composure there for a while, but came on well in the second half. But when Tevez notched a second goal for himself and a third for his side with a rocket of a long-range shot in the 52nd, Mexico seemed to lose focus again and were easily controlled by their opponents. Javier Hernandez scored a good goal in the 71st to give them a bit of life, but it wasn’t enough, as they couldn’t put anything else together. Argentina advances to the quarterfinals and our CONCACAF mates are out.