It could have been a close run Waterloo, but in the end it was a capitulation of Dunkirk proportions. The hype surrounding the game meant that it was never likely to live up to the billing and in the first 10 minutes, the football was pedestrian. Soon after though, the game came to life, as did the England team when the Germans took a 2-0 lead, firstly through some terrible defending and then a combination of bad defending and bizarre goalkeeping, that looked more like trying to get out of the way of the ball than stopping it!
With everything to lose, the over paid stars of the EPL started to play football at last. 5 mins after the second goal, Upson, who had been culpable for the German first and partially for the second, rose above his marker to loop the ball over the challenging keeper and pull one back. 60 seconds later, an incident with shades of 1966 all over it occurred. Lampard lobbed the keeper from just outside the box, to see his shot hit the underside of the bar, go in by a yard and bounce out.
It wasn’t a case of the goal being disallowed, more ignored completely! The German keeper jumped up immediately caught the ball and played on. The German defenders made no move to indicate they thought it was a goal, and only Lampard on the England team seemed to appeal for the goal. With the Germans playing for a counter attack immediately, the referee had to make a quick decision, and with little indication from the players to suggest anything was amiss, carried on with the game.
There were still opportunities. England hit the bar twice, and had more shots on goal than the Germans, but with England chasing the game, gaps appeared at the back, and with their faster and more direct attacking the Germans pulled away with another 2 goals, putting the game out of England’s reach and out of their misery. And a miserable tournament it has been. Thankfully the French and Italians were even more pathetic, but its minimal consolation for a bunch of players capable of so much more.
- Man of the Match: Thomas Muller – Identified by Wayne Rooney as a big threat before the game, Muller scored two and set-up the Lukas Podolski goal that put Germany 2-0 up. The Bayern Munich forward was industrious and full of running down the right and always offered an outlet; he took his two goals with fantastic composure. Honourable mention must go to England goalkeeper David James who tried in vain to thwart Germany with a number of smart stops.
- Germany verdict:Very impressive in attack but question marks still remain about their defensive capabilities; they will need to improve if they are to triumph over a more clinical side than England in the quarter-finals, especially if Argentina are the opponents. However, there are numerous positives to take, with Miroslav Klose proving his international finishing prowess once again and the likes of Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil providing boundless energy. Impressive on the counter-attack and the victory was thoroughly deserved.
- England verdict: Could have been so different had Frank Lampard’s first-half strike counted when Capello’s side were very much in the ascendancy. But they were beaten by a youthful and more energetic Germany team, who took advantage of defensive lapses in concentration. Wayne Rooney was once again disappointing and though England did look bright after the second goal, they were unable to demonstrate the sort of ruthless streak that their opponents displayed in abundance.
- Could do better: England’s defence. The lack of pace of England’s centre-back pairing was embarrassingly exposed by Joachim Low’s side; John Terry and Matthew Upson’s joint mistake for the first goal would have looked at home on a Sunday League pitch. Gareth Barry also looked woeful as a defensive midfielder and provided a distinct lack of protection for the back four. It would be easy to blame the assistant referee, but England defended apallingly.
- Stat attack: This was the third time in World Cup history that England conceded four goals, previous four-goal hauls were achieved by Belgium and Hungary in 1954.