Dazzling Germany humiliate England

 

WORLD CUP 2010: ROUND OF 16: GERMANY 4 ENGLAND 1:THE BIG pieces of hardware lining the roads in Bloemfontein to promote the local military museum set just the tone the English fans like to adopt for clashes with their old enemy. If they viewed the Free State Stadium as a battleground yesterday, though, few of those who had travelled so far to support Fabio Capello’s side can have avoided the conclusion that his side were completely routed over the course of their latest 90 minutes engagement with the Germans.

Full of optimism that they could get the better of an unusually inexperienced German side, England ended up suffering their heaviest ever defeat at the hands of the three times world champions, conceding four goals for the first time into the bargain.

It was also their worst World Cup defeat at the hands of any opponents and, for good measure, their heaviest at any tournament finals.

Afterwards, Joachim Loew made the outwitting of his opposite number sound like simplicity itself, while Capello, understandably, shunned a tactical review of the game, preferring instead to play up the terrible refereeing error that had denied his side a second goal seven minutes before half-time when the scoreline was 2-1.

An equaliser then, he reasoned, would have made for a very different game. “I think after the two nil from Germany, they played well for 20 minutes. We scored 2-1 and the most important thing then was to get to 2-2. We scored but incredibly it wasn’t given. It seems we can play with five referees and still they can’t decide if it’s a goal or not a goal.

“But the game would have been different after this goal because without it Germany were able to play a counter-attacking game and they played it very well.

“It was a terrible mistake by the linesman, and also the referee because from the bench I saw the ball go over the line.”

Asked about his side’s four games over the last two weeks, during which they failed miserably to look like the serious title contenders they had claimed to be prior to arriving in South Africa, Capello conceded that the performances had, at the very least, been inconsistent.

“We played against the USA not so bad; we made mistakes but had chances to score goals. We played badly against Algeria. We played well against Slovenia. Today, we can talk about the performance but I think that the referee not whistling for the goal was the difference. It’s incredible.”

Poor as his side undoubtedly were from start to finish yesterday, it’s still impossible to completely disagree on that last point.

Asked about his future, Capello said he will speak to David Richards, chairman of the FA’s international committee, to ascertain whether he still has the backing of his employers.

The Italian, who insisted he would not resign, apparently wants that conversation to take place when he gets back to London, but it was far from clear last night the blazers will wait that long and while there was nothing concrete to suggest he will be sacked, there was some sense last night they might seek to engineer his departure.

As to the game’s great controversy, the Germans, of course, will point gleefully to 1966 and Geoff Hurst’s goal that should not have been, but they may have been a little fortunate on this occasion too that Arne Friedrich wasn’t booked for a second time after blocking Wayne Rooney’s run towards the area before Thomas Müller got their third goal.

Still, they were so superior to their opponents over the course of the game generally it really is possible neither the goal nor the sending-off would have made any real difference.

Loew certainly didn’t give too much credence to the suggestion his side had merely been gifted their victory in a meeting of equals thanks to a mistake by the match officials. He readily conceded Frank Lampard’s shot late in the first half had crossed the line after striking the underside of the crossbar but, he insisted, “we’ve put on a magnificent display against a very experienced English side.

“Tactically we were excellent because we wanted the English to set up their play in the defence and then be aggressive in midfield. Well we knew that Gerrard and Lampard always support the forwards and that their midfield would be open as a result.

“So our objective was to set Terry up with Klose to force him to come out of the defence. We knew the fullbacks would be to the sides and this would create the spaces between the England defenders which would help us penetrate. And we were successful in luring Terry out of the defence, which allowed Müller and Podolski to penetrate.

“Up two nil, we were in full control. We could have scored a third goal then. When England scored, there was a difficult patch for our team. But at the half-time interval, I pointed out that we’re still in the lead 2-1. I called upon my team to keep their cool and to go for every opportunity to push forward.

“I told them not to try to defend only. If we wanted to win we needed got to score more goals and I said there would more space and opportunities. They did what I asked and I am very proud of them”