Normally, I’m not one to complain about referees--- as calls, in the end, tend to even themselves out throughout a tournament. However, Spain’s zebra, Alberto Undiano Mallenco, did the tournament, and both Serbia and Germany an injustice, handing out 9 yellow cards throughout their match. He’s been an international referee since 2004, and definitely has experience calling huge matches in La Liga--- Which makes his questionable, soft calls all the more perplexing. Perhaps he was intimidated by the highly physical style of play both teams bring to the pitch? One will never know.
My two biggest issues are, of course, the second yellow leading to Klose’s red card, and why Vidic was not given a straight red for a handball in the penalty box. Of course, Klose’s second yellow was a foul, but it was not a card. It was not malicious, as he attempted to get out of the tackle.
Oh, OK… one more. The inconsistency of cards handed out between the two halves dulled the style and quality of play for both squads, as no player could ever expect what was going to be called and what wasn’t. But hey, at least it wasn’t as bad as the inexplicable call that pulled the winning goal back from the United States…
Now, all that being said (whew!), die Mannschaft did not play anywhere close to the crispness that they showed in the 4-0 drubbing of Australia in their opening group stage match. The midfield, in the first half, looked out of sorts. Bastian Schweinsteiger, while playing a bit more forward, also was more hesitant. Thomas Mueller couldn’t cross a ball in to save his life. And, Lukas… oh, Lukas! The self-called “idiot” was guilty of an abysmally struck one-on-one, but more importantly; the first penalty miss for Germany since Uli Hoeness flubbed one in ‘74. Ouch.
And, Herr Loew, if, by chance, you are reading? Pretty please replace Friedrich with Badstuber in the middle? Mertesacker didn’t have a horrible match. And Lahm was a bit above average. But, Friedrich failed to mark Jovanovich when the cross setting up his goal was sent in, and Badstuber was, handily, played off the park. His wing defending (kind of) works in the Bundesliga, but is shown to be lacking when facing international competition (i.e. Champions League, World Cup).
So, now we face Ghana in an elimination match which has me drawing parallels to EURO ‘08. We dominate our opening match: Poland was the victim during EURO, Australia here. We lose the second match to a strong Eastern European side: Croatia in ‘08, Serbia here. We lose an integral part of the starting 11 to a red card in that second match: Bastian Schweinsteiger there, Miroslav Klose here. And then we face a physical, defensive side in the third match: hosts, Austria then, and, Ghana tomorrow.
I attended that match in Vienna, against Austria, in 2008. Stuck in the Austrian supporters section, mind you. Me and my cousins, Christine and Belinda were three lone, white jerseys stuck in the middle of a virtual sea of red. I would never be as happy as to see the hero of the match, Michael Ballack, drill the only goal on 49 minutes. I was also praying for full-time as Austria kept coming at us. I slumped in to my seat at full-time, sweating; feeling like I was on the pitch myself. And, I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be feeling much the same.
Trainer, Loew is sure not to change the line-up again, with the exception of red-card ineligible Klose. I’d imagine Cacau will be starting in his place.
We need to be wary of the dangerous Asamoah Gyan, as he struck against Serbia to give his side three points, and again against Australia.
So, this is it. We have the talent, of course, to go through. But do we have the mettle? We will be tested by a very strong, very capable Ghanian side; defensive-minded and very quick on fast breaks. Tomorrow is the true test. And has me hoping that the parallel to ‘08 continues….
Auf geht’s Deutschland!