I can imagine Jogi Loew told the team that he didn’t want them chasing after the Spanish midfield and their tiki-taki football. I can understand that. However, I think it might have been taken too literally on the pitch. Instead of the attractive, attacking game that devastated Argentina and England, we deferred to Spain; offering up far too much respect.
Our 2 back lines of four bent, but did not break, during the 90 minutes of onslaught la Furia Roja provided. And inexplicably, Spain went ahead on a header by the diminutive, shaggy-haired Carlos Puyol, where our height advantage should have provided more than ample coverage.
I was distraught as the line-ups were announced, as Loew had decided to start Piotr Trochowski in place of, suspended, Thomas Mueller. And while Piotr is solid, and dependable, I would have much rather seen Toni Kroos get the nod. My thoughts bore fruit, as Kroos came on for Trochowski and promptly gave die Mannschaft their only true scoring threat in the match. A deft save by the superlative Iker Casillas was required to keep the Germans off the board.
I was also perplexed that Jogi chose Jerome Boateng, instead of Marcell Jansen. Not that Boateng is horrible, mind you. But, he is playing out of position when he plays on the wing. And Spain, who usually does not look comfortable near the sidelines, funneled their attack mostly through poor Jerome. Marcell has shown, when he’s come in to replace Boateng, that he’s more adept at the job.
My, perhaps over-simplified, keys to the match were: Stop David Villa from scoring. (Which we did.) And, score first. (Which we did not.) And when we went behind, the only two players on the field who revved up their game were Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Perhaps, that is because they were a part of so many huge matches for Bayern over the Champions League season, when they stared down defeat so many times.
I give all the credit in the world to Spain. They have shown incredible nerve throughout this tournament, and their first place ranking in the world is apt. Their midfield passing is poetry to watch, and Iker Casillas is a wonderful talent in goal. While they haven’t dominated score lines this tournament, they have, at times, completely enveloped their opponents, showing everyone the true meaning of the word “team”.
Good on ya, Spain!
And now we come to a third place match, which in most people’s minds is completely superfluous. However, it can be entertaining--- Just look at the Germany - Portugal match in 2006 for evidence. And we do have a couple of pieces of business we can take care of, on Saturday, versus Uruguay…
I’ll be happy to see Thomas Mueller back on the pitch for one more match as he’s vying for the Best Young Player award as well as a chance at the Golden Boot. And, of course, I’m sure all Germans would be thrilled if Miroslav Klose could score a brace and eclipse Ronaldo as the all-time goals scored leader. (He’s close to the Golden Boot as well, with both players having scored four goals so far.) Let’s hope Miro’s shaken off his back injury enough to be on the pitch…
Here’s my over-simplified key to the third place match (along with an anecdote): Stop, you guessed it, Diego Forlan.
Three of my very best friends in the world, the brothers and sister Flood, recount a story of a pre-season Manchester United match they attended in the United States. With seats very close to the pitch, they were in prime position for pictures, autographs and such. A young Diego Forlan walks out on to the field, and they all start yelling, “Diego! Hey, Diego! Diego!”. Diego turns to look at them, with a smile on his face, ready to snap a photo or receive accolades when they yell, in unison, “You’re s***e!”. Ha. None of them really think that anymore…
Auf geht’s Deutschland!
And finally, in case you’re interested (and want to hear what I sound like), I was interviewed for a podcast
yesterday on this very site. The excellent and entertaining Jonathan Harris-Bass rang me up and talked to me about that traitor, Paul, blue jumpers and the future of die Mannschaft. Click here to listen. (I suggest the whole thing, but if you don’t have the time, my interview starts at minute 23.) Thanks, guys! I hope to do it again.