Germany vs. Argentina: European organization trumps South American flair

Germany thumped Argentina 4-0. The Europeans put on a master class of organization and tactical astuteness to overcome a team that could not make its individual brilliance count.

Germany's midfielder Mesut Ozil (L) and striker Lukas Podolski celebrate after the quarter final 2010 World Cup match pitting Argentina against Germany on Saturday at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. Germany won 4-0.

In the end, European organization easily trumped South American flair.

Germany comprehensively defeated Argentina 4-0 in Saturday’s quarter final tie to move one step closer to what is beginning to look like an ominously predictable fourth World Cup title.

The scoreline flattered the Germans. But just like the day before, when Holland beat favorites Brazil, the Europeans put on a master class of organization and tactical astuteness to overcome a team who could not make their individual brilliance count.

Germany went in 1-0 at half time thanks to an early mistake by goalkeeper Sergio Romero. The game was just three minutes old when Romero disastrously failed to track a Bastian Schweinsteiger free kick from the left and the ball bounced off his leg and into the net.

Argentina were far from down and out, but they simply could not overcome the tight marking and teamwork and make an impact.

German coach Joachim Low, whose reputation has soared over the last three weeks, replicated the tactics used by Internazionale coach Jose Mourinho in shutting down Messi during the Champions League semi final. The little winger was crowded out every time he got the ball
and was disappointingly ineffective.

The same tactic was used to great effect whenever Argentina got into the last third of the field. Germany played four along the back and had another three midfielders just a few yards in front of them, giving the Argentines no space to make telling passes.

When they broke, they broke in numbers and they supported their players at all times.

The Germans knew where Argentina’s weakness lay and they did most of their damage down the left flank. All three of their second half goals came from low crosses or cut backs into the box.

The second came in the 68th minute when Lukas Podolski headed for the byline and cut the ball across goal for Miroslav Klose to tap home. The third was not dissimilar, but this time it was Bastion Schweinsteiger, a powerhouse in midfield all day, who knocked the ball across goal for Arne Friedrich to bundle into the net from close range.

That 74th minute goal ended Argentina’s hopes but not the scoring. As the game petered out, Mesut Ozil, one of Germany’s revelations this competition, broke down the left before crossing into the box for Klose to side foot home No. 4.

It took his total of World Cup goals to 14, just one less than the all time leader Ronaldo. Only a fool would bet on him not adding to his tally before the tournament is over.

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