Saturday, June 24, 2006

"The winner takes it all, the loser standing small..."

So “Klinsi” and his Elf go storming on.
All that feverish build-up, and then this first match of the second round is over within 12 minutes.
Sweden coach Lars Lagerback has just summed it up: Germany got off to a very good start, and we didn’t defend very well.
That about covers it – Teddy Lucic especially having a day to forget, from the fourth-minute moment his head could only divert Lukas Podolski’s header into the net, to the 12th when he was turned inside out by Miroslav Klose to set up Podolski’s second – to the 33rd minute, when a strangely-smiling referee showed him a second yellow and then red card.
Having been ridiculed after the very first game for the shoddiness of their defence, Germany have now gone three games without conceding – nor looking too likely to.
Even Sweden’s second-half penalty, which could at least have turned the prematurely-settled game interesting again, was probably destined to end up in Row Z, judging by how their big day had gone so far.
And so Henrik Larsson obliged.
He was not the only one firing into the stratosphere, with German captain Michael Ballack appearing to want Frank Lampard’s record for most long-range shots without scoring.
At least Larsson could share the misery otherwise with Zlatan Ibrahomivic, turning in the kind of display that could and should have him stuck in Serie B with Juventus.
At the other end, while the Pole Podolski got the goals, it was the Pole Klose who deserved his man of the match award.
He created both by a combination of relentless niggling at defenders and the ball, vision to spot the right run and the right pass at just the right time, and surprising power and bravery for someone not quite slight, but certainly no Koller.
Should they go through against Mexico tonight, you have to assume Argentina’s attackers – oh so many of them – would pose a rather sterner test in the quarter-final.
Germany could help their chances by tying their bootlaces up properly beforehand – several times their players, especially Torsten Frings, held up proceedings to redo their double-knots.
I only just managed to sneak my way into this evening’s game in Munich, having been rejected in my first application but signing on successfully to the waiting list.
The scrum for tickets, both among those approved but a little late collecting, and those desperate for any leftovers, was hectic and heated to say the least.
Eventually the system worked, doling out according to priorities of first German and Swedish, then countries still in the tournament, then countries who had been knocked out, then finally your Denmarks, Irelands and Indias.
Dog eat dog, hack eat hack – but in the end everyone was fed.
The streets of Germany should be tumultuous tonight – rot, Schwarz und gelb everywhere again.
Good to see Klinsmann’s team playing a more entertaining style than German sides past – to see the hosts going far, taking the fans and the momentum with them.
A German exit –with England and Brazil following – might make it easier to get hold of tickets for future games.
As late as this afternoon, the Fifa media channel was inviting applications for tonight’s Argentina-Mexico match – should anyone be able to make it to far-flung Leipzig with time to spare.
At the moment, I have approvals in hand for England-Ecuador tomorrow and Italy-Aussies on Monday, while a decision on Spain-France is “pending”.
Not bad, and certainly can’t complain - for someone predominantly just playing at being a proper sports hack this summer.

1 comment:

Toxic said...

Good to see Henrik choke again