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FIFA World Cup: Germany maul Australia 4 - 0 and set South Africa on fire

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lukas_podolski.jpgAll eyes were on Germany as the critics wondered how the Die Mannschaft would fare at the FIFA World Cup with their skipper Michael Ballack and first choice keeper Rene Adler out injured. But not only did Joachim Loew's German side silence their critics but they bound and gagged them as they went on to thrash Australia 4 - 0 in the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban and grab top spot in Group D with considerable force.

First half goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski seemed to have taken the game beyond the Aussies but after Tim Cahill's wrongful sending off early in the 2nd half, the game was well and truly buried. Thomas Muller and Cacau hammered two extra nails in the Australian coffin after the sending off to add to their woes. With France, England and Argentina failing to set the tournament alive in their respective opening round fixtures, Germany's performance comes as breath of fresh air for all of us who were so far underwhelmed by this year's FIFA World Cup.

In the absence of Michael Ballack, Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil formed a three man central midfield partnership with Bastian Schweinsteiger as Miroslav Klose started up front on his own with Lukas Podolski and youngster Thomas Muller supporting the 2006 Golden Shoe winner on either flank. Manual Neuer was put between the sticks for just his 6th cap for the national on this massive occasion. Captain Philipp Lahm started on the right with Holger Badstuber, a surprise inclusion to the squad playing on the left side of defence.

Australia had a 4-4-2 formation composed largely of defensive minded players. Tim Cahill started on up front along side Richard Garcia ahead of recognised forwards like Joshua Kennedy and Harry Kewell. The Socceroos in their cool black attire had Brett Emerton providing the service to the aerial maestro Cahill from the right and Jason Culina doing the same from the left.

Germany came onto the field all guns blazing as they scored within the first ten minutes of the game thanks to a thunderous effort from Lukas Podolski who looked hungry after a disappointing domestic season with FC Cologne. Mesut Oezil set Thomas Muller into the box with a brilliant through ball, who cut it inside for the oncoming Podolski and the 25-year old slammed the ball with so much venom that even trustworthy hands of Mark Schwarzer failed to dissuade the Jabulani (World Cup ball) from finding the back of the net. Most of Germany's attacks came from the talented and dynamic duo of Muller and Oezil on the right as they carried forward momentum from their brilliant domestic seasons.

Joachim Loew's team had a good mixture of youth and experience with 8 of the 11 starters under the age of 25. They looked really calm and patient despite their lack of experience and it seemed as though the unit had been brought up together on the same farm.

The rusty Miroslav Klose displayed his lack of form when he missed a brilliant chance off a cross from Podolski from point blank range despite having only Schwarzer to beat. It was a huge let-off for Australia who were starting to look vulnerable against the talented attacking force of the Germans. The Bayern Munich striker redeemed himself a few minutes later after he connected with a pin point cross from Lahm despite stiff opposition from Schwarzer who attacked the ball but failed to punch it away. Near the half hour Mesut Oezil had a chance to kill the game when he was through one-on-one with Schwarzer, but the Werder Bremen midfielder's clever little lob didn't have enough spice in it and it was cleared of the line by Lucas Neill.

The Socceroos found it impossible to predict or prevent Germany's slick and sly passing as well as their cunning runs on the flanks. Muller and Lahm on the right were running circles around the 34 year old Scott Chipperfield who felt like a sitting duck ready to be hunted. Aussie coach Pim Verbeek switched Brett Emerton on the left to help out Chipperfield in the final minutes of the half. The first half had Germany written all over it with Australia looking to have lost all their spirit entering the tunnel with stooped shoulders and pessimistic expressions on their faces. The men from down under found it extremely difficult to break Germany's flow as they succumbed to the high quality movement from the Europeans.

Verbeek replaced Vincent Grella with Brett Holman to boost his team's offence on the field at half time. Australia responded positively in the beginning of the 2nd half having had a penalty appeal turned down. But it all went wrong for the Socceroos in the 56th minute when Tim Cahill's challenge on Bastian Schweinteiger was deemed bad enough by Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez to warrant a red card. It was quite a bizarre decision from the man in the middle controlling proceedings and at best merited a yellow card. It was another decision that underlined the poor quality of refereeing in the tournament.

FIFA's decision of giving all confederations equal representation on the panel of referees may have been quite a considerate one, but it certainly seems to adversely affect the quality of the tournament with referees with little prior experience on such big a stage. Klose and Podolski linked up brilliantly 5 minutes past the hour mark, but the Bayern Munich striker once again failed to finish the move as he sent the ball wide of the near post.

Thomas Muller was probably the best player on the pitch and the 20-year old mustered his first international goal in the 68th minute after skilfully turning past Chipperfield and slotting the ball between the legs of Neill into the goal. Minutes later substitute Cacau scored Germany's fourth with his first touch on the pitch. Oezil placed the ball in the path of the striker who slotted it easily into the back of the net. It was a fantastic performance from the 3 time World Champions.

The rampaging Germans have sent chills up the spines of all their rivals after that thumping of the strong willed Aussies. The team looks in perfect shape to face any kind of opposition though the going may not be this easy against Serbia in their next game on Friday the 18th of June. Mesut Oezil and Thomas Muller look like the future stars of German football while Joachim Loew will be very proud of his decision of including both Podolski and Klose in the starting line-up despite their harrowing displays in the German Bundesliga last season.

It's back to the drawing board for Australia and Pim Verbeek as they next face off against the frenzied Ghanaians who defeated Serbia 1 - 0 earlier in the day. The defeat would have surely lowered morale considerably but the team would have to lift themselves up if they are to mount any kind of challenge for the final qualification spot. The 4 goal hammering puts them in a terrible position on goal difference too and the absence of star midfielder Tim Cahill, due to suspension isn't going to help matters. Scott Chipperfield position's in the team may have to be considered as the left back looks more of a liability than an asset.

Emerton and Culina were woeful from the flanks, failing to whip in quality balls for the strikers with Badstuber and Lahm stuck to them like glue. Josh Kennedy could be a logical inclusion as the tall striker would be able to hold the ball better up front and help the team retain a lot of possession. One finds it hard to back the Aussies to brush themselves up and make a serious attempt to qualify for the next round.

Starting 11

Germany: Neuer, Badstuber, Mertesacker, Friedrich, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Ozil (Gomez 74'), Podolski (Marin 81'), Muller, Klose (Cacau 68')

Australia: Schwarzer, Chipperfield, Neil, Moore, Wilkshire, Grella (Holman 46'), Valeri, Emerton (Jedinak 74'), Culina, Garcia (Rukavytsya 64'), Cahill (red card 56')

Germany 4 - 0 Australia

Miroslav Klose (Germany) 8th
Lukas Podolski ( Germany) 26th
Thomas Muller (Germany) 67th
Cacau (Germany) 70th


Check out the Points Table

Also Read:

 Ghana 1 - 0 Serbia - Match Report

Germany vs. Serbia - Match Preview

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