BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

When it comes to goalkeeping mistakes – which is a theme of Group C but stay with me – then few are as forgotten as Australian keeper Mark Schwarzer’s weak punch that presented a ball to a Huddersfield Town player in his first – and last – experience of a West Yorkshire derby for Bradford City.

Two minutes into the game Schwarzer gave away a goal with a flap, four minutes after that the worst tackle in football history was made and the game faded away. I recall that it ended 1-1 and that it was the only mistake I ever saw the Aussie keeper make.

Schwarzer moved on from Bradford City after a dozen and a half superb games and was last seen keeping goal for Fulham in the UEFA Cup final. His ability from crosses, his judgement, his athleticism see him fondly recalled at Valley Parade.

So it is with some pride that he – one of two antipodean keepers with connections to this corner of West Yorkshire – takes to the field in the World Cup and starts the game watching his Aussie team mates missing two gilt edge chances from a corner with Philipp Lahm blocked Richard Garcia’s follow up to a Tim Cahill chance.

The Australians go into the game with something of a 4-2-4-0 formation with the four midfielders in from of the two defensive players seemingly prepared to rotate the role as furthest forward man as Dutchman Pim Verbeek’s team show the greatest manifestation thus far of the fear of losing which take the first game of this World Cup. The Australians game plan requires a draw which the Germans will not settle for as Thomas Müller breaks down the right and squares to Lukas Podolski to strike home confidently.

Australia’s response seems to be to carry on as they were doing before the goal and try grind out a draw perhaps noting mistakes by South Africa and England which surrendered single goal winning positions. Such an aim would have been unreachable had Miroslav Klose converted an excellent born from the Europeans getting behind the Australian’s full backs and crossing low.

When else in life do you see a man slam his hand against the Earth in frustration than following such a miss? It is the drama unfolding.

Klose need not be so upset, Lahm crosses, Schwarzer comes and does not get there and the striker heads in and it looks like a long way back for the Australians, a Lucas Neill clearance off the line when Mesut Özil had sprung the creaky offside trap could have made it even further, he did it again a ten minutes later and Australia were lucky to get off the field only 2-0 down.

The response from the Socceroos is strong. Brett Holman arrives from the bench and fizzes a shot wide which galvanises the Germans into another chance which Müller ineffectually puts over the bar. Ineffectual describes the challenge by Tim Cahill which – unbelievably – he is given a red card for.

What Referee Marco Rodriguez of Mexico sees in the challenge he alone knows – certainly it could not be said that he has been overtly harsh to the Aussies having allowed Lucas Neill to spend much of the first half in his customary violent rage and starting the second half with a knee in the back of Klose which was worthy of dismissal. Neill is an obnoxious player undeterred by the sort of punishments which Cahill has received for an offence which did not justify it.

Rodriguez books five – two for diving – but his red card aside he has in common with his colleagues in South Africa put in a good performance. The refereeing has been consistent, which is often all that is needed.

Müller scores a third turning Scott Chipperfield all ways and then firing past Schwarzer and Australia are a beaten side while the Germans have put together the first great performance of this World Cup. Brazilian-German Cacau – a sub for Klose – adds a fourth from Özil once again getting behind full back Luke Wilkshire. The simplicity of the method of the Australian’s defeat – the ball behind the full back – is surprising.

The problems that the Australians were having in the opening five minutes when Podloski scored they were sill making when diminutive playmaker Marko Marin arrived in the field with ten minutes to go and enjoyed a chance with his first touch.

Having played – in a way – a six man midfield the Australians have been undone by half as many Germans in the middle of the pitch with Europeans sitting between the two lines and controlling the game.

With Serbia and Ghana to play the Australians are not out but would have to improve performance before even contemplating getting a better result. The Ghanaians had the kind of pace on the flanks which could enjoy a similar return as the Germans have enjoyed.

Germany have answered critics who suggested the team was too young, too raw and lacked goals. They go on fortified by this win and – as with Argentina’s display in Germany four years ago – will no doubt move from assumed also-rans to popular favourite.

Four years ago Argentina’s run ended with a punch up with the Germans who – it seems – have come out fighting yet again.


Comments are closed.