Day 17 of the World Cup saw England take on Germany and Argentina take on Mexico with a Quarter Final match awaiting the two winners of these games on Saturday July 3rd. Would England be there? And if they overcome their old enemy Germany will they then have to face their other old enemy Argentina? Would this be the year that England banish all of their World Cup demons?
I won’t beat around the bush here. The answer was a resounding No. England limped out of the World Cup after getting their pants pulled down in emphatic fashion by the Germans. The game finished 4-1, but it wasn’t without controversy, although it couldn’t mask the fact that England were thrashed by a far superior German side. England’s defence was appalling and they looked lost and lacked any sort of creativity, with the manager having to shoulder a fair amount of the blame for failing to try and change anything about the England team who were clearly struggling to make any sort of impact.
The match started poorly for England who struggled to find their feet and failed to find any sort of width to their game. The Germans were easily able to snuff out the English in the middle of the park and took the lead themselves thanks to some rank defending by England’s Terry and Upson. Ironically, after Franz Beckenbauer’s criticism of England’s limited kick and rush attacking strategy, Germany took they lead from a goal kick! Neuer’s goal kick dissected the out of position England defenders and Klose ran onto the ball and slotted it home past David James. 1-0. And it was another defensive balls up that allowed Lukas Podolski to fire home from a tight angle to double the Germans advantage. 32 minutes gone and England were 2-0 down and facing a real thrashing as David James had already had to make a number of good saves to keep England in the game.
But England got themselves back into the match in the 37th minute when Matthew Upson headed home to help try and make amends for his defensive errors which had cost England so dearly. England started to add width to their game and suddenly looked like they might have a chance, causing the Germans problems. But the real talking point of the match came in the 39th minute just moments after England had scored. England were pressing and the ball came to Lampard on the edge of the box. He lofted a shot at goal over Neuer, only to see the ball hit the crossbar. But it bounced down and clearly crossed the line, only to bounce back out and into the very grateful arms of Neuer. Every English fan in the stadium erupted with joy as they had just watched England equalise. Fabio was up off his seat celebrating. England were back in it. But No. The referee didn’t give it! In an incident that was uncannily reminiscent of the World Cup final between England and Germany in 1966 when Geoff Hurst’s shot hit the crossbar and bounced out, the Germans can feel some sort of justice after 44 years, but this will do little to appease England.
The incident brings the subject of goal line technology harshly into the spotlight as the ball didn’t just bounce a millimetre over the line. It was about a foot over the line and everyone in the stadium could see it, but somehow the linesman and referee failed to spot it. FIFA’s Sepp Blatter must have wished he had never set up a Twitter account as it took some pasting from disgruntled England fans. So the first half ended 2-1, but England were stil in it surely.
Sadly they weren’t. In the second half Germany put England to the sword on the counter attack. Gareth Barry, who gifted away possession against Slovenia but was lucky that the opposition couldn’t capitalize, found out that mistakes at this level against top class team gets punished more ruthlessly. Mueller finishing off a sweeping German move and restoring the two goal advantage. Then minutes later Barry was stripped for pace by Mesut Ozil who fed the ball through for Mueller to grab his second and finish the game off as a contest.
It was a bitterly disappointing day for England and an end to a miserable World Cup campaign that never really got going and questions must be asked as to why one of the form teams going into the tournament imploded so badly and were given such a harsh lesson by a team we were so confident we could beat. Fabio is due to discuss his future with the FA soon, but he must be in fear for his job. He failed to manage his team against Germany, inexplicably sending on Heskey for Defoe when England were already struggling to contain the talented German side.
England can have no complaints about the result, disputed goal or not. They were outclassed and outplayed all over the park and must accept that they lost to a vastly superior team.
The next game of the day was Argentina v Mexico. Both South American sides have impressed so far at this World Cup and this promised to be a good game full of Latin American style. Mexico had only managed to beat Argentina 4 times out of their 25 previous encounters and Argentina were on their best run of form since 1998 having won their last 8 games. The game didn’t disappoint, but sadly it was marred by another shocking refereeing decision that left the Mexicans livid and no doubt prompted another onslaught on @seppblatter.
The Mexicans had the better of Argentinians early on, but it was Argentina who took the lead through a Carlos Tevez header, but the Mexicans can feel somewhat aggrieved as he was clearly standing yards offisde when the ball was played through to him by Messi.
But the goal stood despite the Mexcian protests, but they could have no one to blame but themselves for the second goal in the 33rd minute. Ricardo Osorio was caught in two minds at the back and what should have been a straight forward pass rolled into the path of the on rushing Higuain who punished the mistake in emphatic fashion making it 2-0. After the break, Tevez all but finished the game off scoring an absolute cracker in the 52 minute. His shot rocketing into the top corner of the goal from about 30 yards.
Fair play to the Mexicans, they didn’t give up and put the Argentine goal under a lot of pressure. They got a consolation goal in the 71st minute from another cracking long rage effort from Hernandez, but despite further pressure they could not find another way through the Argentinian defence. It was another great game that was marred by awful refereeing decisions, something that has featured heavily throughout this World Cup.
Despite England’s under par performance in the World Cup, English fans are still performing heroically in the Spotflick Cup, keeping their cast iron grip on the top of the table.
Get your nation involved in the Spotflick Cup and make sure they top the table at the end of the World Cup and prove they are the best penalty flickers in the world. All you need is a copy of Spotflick – The Penalty Shoot Out game for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
Check back tomorrow for the Spotflick Review of Day 18 of the World Cup to see if the Dutch and Brazilians can set up a mouthwatering Quarter Final match next week.