The World Cup Calendar, June 27th. England Mullered By Germany

Germany v England, 2010, this game certainly wasn’t short of talking points. Most of the world will remember this game as a complete and utter dismantling of a disjointed England team. The English will refer to this game as a complete robbery. Admittedly, Frank Lampard had a perfectly good goal wrongfully ruled out. What the English media don’t report is how badly their team played, and how the Germans would almost certainly have put the game to bed, regardless of whether Lampard’s goal had counted. But this game hinged on more than just a Frank Lampard ghost goal, this was a display of total football by Joachim Low’s German team.

Germany asserted their dominance early on with a string of attempts on goal. Mesut Ozil latched onto a through ball to blast a shot goalbound, however his shot hit of the legs of David James in the England goal and went out for a corner. Sami Khedira ambled his way past the England defence, hitting a shot from outside the box. The shot went high and wide, but David James was visibly enraged that the German midfielder was allowed so much time on the ball.

Twenty minutes in and the German pressure paid off. German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer took a goal kick that usurped pretty much the entire outfield, finding Miroslav Klose in the final third of the field. Klose outmuscled Matthew Upson to keep the ball under control, judging the bounce of the ball and sliding in to stab the ball past David James and into the net. It was incredible timing and judgement by the Polish born forward, to have such high concentration levels through the sound of those infernal vuvuzelas!

Miroslav Klose nearly doubled Germany’s lead soon after. Thomas Muller played an inch perfect past beyond John Terry to the onrushing Klose. Klose took a touch to steady himself and struck the ball. David James got low to the ground to block the ball, denying Klose his second of the match.

England hit the bar half an hour in, although to the dismay of Fabio Capello, the effort was ruled offside. Glen Johnson played a neat one-two with Steven Gerrard, before dinking a cross into the box. The cross found the head of Jermaine Defoe, the Tottenham striker nodding his header over the outstretched Neuer and off the bar. It was offside, but it was still the most exciting moment of the match for the English.

Germany doubled their lead on minute 32. A flighted pass found Muller, running behind a helpless chasing pack of Matt Upson, John Terry and Ashley Cole. Muller crossed the ball quickly to Lukas Podolski. Podolski took a good touch before hammering the ball past the acute angle left by David James in goal. England had been poor, but at a goal down, it was salvageable. Playing terribly and two goals down, England were having a nightmare.

Both teams had chances to get a goal soon after. Firstly, Frank Lampard slid in to direct a shot towards goal. His shot was saved by Neuer before being cleared by Philipp Lahm on the line (on the line, not a yard over it!), then Miroslav Klose very nearly made it 3-0 to the Germans. He took the ball down from a corner, performing a neat turn to confuse Matt Upson. Steven Gerrard threw himself into a tackle, pressuring Klose to prematurely get his shot off, alleviating the pressure for England.

Just five minutes after Podolski’s goal and England had pulled one back, and from the most unlikely source. A short corner was passed to Steven Gerrard. Gerrard took a touch and crossed the ball into the box. That cross found the head of Matt Upson who rose high above his marker and knocked the header past Neuer and into the goal. England had been utterly dreadful, and yet they had a lifeline. Perhaps this was the turning point…

Then it was time for one of the 2010 World Cup’s most controversial moments. Jermaine Defoe flicked the ball up to Frank Lampard on the edge of the box. Lampard’s shot looped over Manuel Neuer, who was a yard or two off his line. The ball hit the bar and quite clearly dropped over the line. The ball bounced back out and was gathered safely by Neuer, who cleverly played on, ensuring the referee only had a split second to make a decision. He chose… poorly! He waved play on, much to the horror of Frank Lampard, the commentators and millions of England fans. The non-goal would have almost certainly changed the game, but I genuinely don’t believe that the result would have changed. But judging by the reaction of the England fans, that goal would have changed history. England would have shrugged off their flat start, stormed past the Germans, beaten Argentina in the next round, coasted past Spain and crushed the Netherlands in the final. But that didn’t happen, because the goal didn’t count, and Germany were superior.

Germany’s first half plan had been all out attack, and that flattened England. Joachim Low’s second half tactics were an all out masterclass. His side was so comfortable that they played a more defensive strategy, soaking up the pressure and hitting England with devastating counter attacks.

England’s most exciting moment of the second half came courtesy of Frank Lampard. From over 35 yards out he struck a free kick towards goal. The shot cannoned off the crossbar and bounced wide, away from danger. Germany were in control, but with only a one goal lead, the danger was still there.

Thomas Muller was pulling the strings for Germany. He already had an assist to his name, and now he had his mind set on scoring. He gathered the ball in midfield, turning the out of position John Terry and driving into the box. His shot was deflected out for a corner, but once again David James was livid at how much space Germany were getting on the ball in dangerous areas.

Muller got his justified goal just shy of 70 minutes. It all came from a remarkable German counter attack. Thomas Muller passed to Bastian Schweinsteiger and ran all the way up the pitch from box to box. Schweinsteiger ran through the middle, dribbling further left as he broke away, before cutting inside of Glen Johnson and moving right. He looked up and played a pass along to Muller who took a touch, picked his spot and fired home.

Just five minutes later and Mesut Ozil latched onto a clearance from Germany’s back line. Gareth Barry had five yards on him, yet Ozil burned past Barry with ease to receive the pass and tear down the wing. Ozil didn’t have scoring in his mind, the whole time he looked up, searching for the pass. He saw Muller at the edge of the box and played a clever little pass through to him. Muller met the ball in his stride to tap the ball into the corner of the goal. Muller. Corner. Hilarious.

England mustered one final chance minutes from the end, but to no avail. Wayne Rooney flicked a pass to Steven Gerrard who controlled the ball magnificently as he coasted into the box. He had no right to control the ball, seeing Per Mertesacker fall to ground in surprise! Gerrard got a shot off, but it was pushed wide by Neuer, and the full time whistle blew soon after.

England have had many poor tournaments, especially in the past decade, but 2010 was a complete embarrassment from start to finish. In fairness, losing to a team of Germany’s quality is understandable, but England were an embarrassing entity in South Africa. They struggled through a group with the USA, Slovenia and Algeria. It was
almost a relief to see Germany put them out of their misery at that stage, before the hype became too much. Germany were a pleasure to watch in South Africa, going all the way to the semi finals before being undone by a corner, with Carlos Puyol heading Spain to a 1-0 win. Losing to Germany wasn’t a terrible result, but the poor performance and lack of ambition by the majority of the team was a concern. If only Frank Lampard’s goal had counted, then maybe, just maybe, England would only have lost 4-2 rather than 4-1. Thomas Muller was just simply too good for England that day, he, like most of his teammates, were just a class above.

Tomorrow’s game: June 28th. Brazil v Chile. 2014.

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