When all eleven
England players play well then the team is a match for anyone, but on
the night only two or three gave performances that you could call their
club form and some of the defending England showed was dreadful. The
warning signs were there from the start and after just three minutes
Ozil was clean through only for David James to get down well to save.
England were working hard but passes were continually overhit in the
first ten minutes, something you rarely saw from the Germans. Ozil is a
class act, a real find for Germany, and he and Schweinsteiger were
bossing the midfield. England's midfield looked disjointed by
comparison although Frank Lampard looked the most likely to breach the
On the 20 minute mark
Germany took a deserved lead, and it came from a goal kick from Neuer.
Unbelievably it travelled the whole length of the pitch without an
England player touching the ball. Klose easily held off Matthew Upson's
feeble challenge and slotted it past James for what was yet another
awful goal from England's point of view. England's response was a Wayne
Rooney shot that went high and wide and a Gareth Barry shot easily
saved. Time and again passes were poorly hit by England and at times it
was embarrassing. The back four were run ragged by the swift German
attackers and on the half hour Ozil again went close. Two minutes later
and England were staring down the barrel. Defoe had just hit the bar
after being wrongly given offside and then Ozil, Klose and Mueller
walked through England's defence and Mueller found Podolski wide left
and completely unmarked. His first touch was poor but he had time and
space for a second touch and this time it was lethal, in off the far
To their credit
England tried to hit back, not altogether convincingly, but on 34
minutes, from James Milner's first telling ball into the box, only a
fine save from Neuer stopped Lampard's shot from going in. At the other
end Germany were still finding it easy to break through and Klose's runs
were always dangerous. Glen Johnson was having a poor game and the
positioning of both John Terry and Upson sometimes beggared belief.
England almost down and out, suddenly from nowhere they found a
lifeline. A corner was taken short and Steven Gerrard put in a superb
cross that Upson met well to head home. Suddenly the Germans looked
less assured and a few moments later came the turning point of the
game. After a scramble on the edge of the box the ball broke for
Lampard to chip the keeper. It was a brilliant effort but the ball hit
the bar and bounced down. In 1966 there was some doubt about 'that'
goal by Geoff Hurst, but this time there was no doubt as the ball was a
clear foot over the line. Unfortunately for the disbelieving England
players Neuer gathered and cleared downfield and the referee waved play
on!!! It was an abysmal error by the linesman and the referee and once
again the bad luck that dogs England in these tournaments had struck
again. Having said all of that, England could have quite conceivably
been three or four goals down at the break. A strange half.
After the break
England began in determined fashion and early shots from Milner and
Gerrard went over and wide respectively. On 52 minutes more bad luck
for England when Lampard struck a great free-kick from 30 yards only to
see the ball crash against the bar. Gerrard had a shot saved, and Defoe
almost got through as England strived for an equaliser. But Mueller
gave England another warning when he shot narrowly wide from a good
position. On 60 minutes England's best move saw Rooney set up Milner
who really should have done better but saw his shot blocked. It was
Milner's last contribution as he was then replaced by Joe Cole.
Ironically it was the
66th minute when Germany settled the game. A free-kick from
Lampard was blocked, and when Barry lost possession it gave Germany the
chance to break swiftly. Johnson was the only covering player as the
Germans bore down on him. The rest of the defence was labouring to get
back to help. It was so easy for the impressive Schweinsteiger to lay
the ball to Mueller who had an age to pick his spot. If that wasn't bad
enough for the England fans, then three minutes later it was even
worse. Again England were on the attack and when a throw was cleared
wide towards Ozil it looked odds on that Barry would reach it first.
But Ozil left him for dead, sprinted towards goal and then laid the
perfect pass into the path of Mueller who again scored with ease.
Fabio Capello's answer
to all of that was to bring on Emile Heskey!
The remaining 20
minutes saw England create a few chances, the best seeing Rooney combine
with Gerrard for the captain to bring yet another fine save out of the
impressive Neuer. Several other efforts came in on the German goal but
in between the Germans passed and moved like England never did in the
whole tournament. Germany now have a very young and talented team but
should take care not to believe their own hype, because the England team
they thrashed in this game was dreadful. Argentina in the next round
may exploit their flaws a little better than we could.
Meanwhile England will
fly home after yet another ultra disappointing World Cup. All the
players need to have a long, hard look at themselves, The Golden
Generation is no more and, if we continue to encourage more and more
foreigners into our game, then the 2014 World Cup may not see a
challenge from us at all. The Under 21 side will play an important role
over the next couple of years but do we have the likes of Ozil, Mueller
and Neuer coming through? Only time will tell. As for Capello, he made
many mistakes during this tournament and the FA will need to look
closely at his performance. Capello will have learned a lot though and
maybe he won't make those mistakes again, one way or another.