Podolski 8, Klose 28, Muller 68, Cacau 70
The Aussies enjoyed a bright opening spell and came close to taking an early lead when Cahill’s header from a corner rebounded to Richard Garcia, who then saw his shot blocked on the line by Philipp Lahm. It did not take long for Germany to gain the ascendency and Lukas Podolski made it count with a fierce finish after eight minutes. Some good work by Mesut Ozil saw him feed Thomas Muller who pulled it back for Podolski to lash home. Miroslav Klose missed a sitter in the 24th minute, firing wide from the penalty spot after Podolski had squared the ball across goal, but three minutes later he made amends with the second German goal. Lahm crossed from deep on the right and Klose beat Australian keeper Mark Schwarzer to the ball, heading firmly into the unguarded net.
Germany could have further extended their advantage early in the second half when Muller blazed over after Ozil had stepped over Lahm’s cut back. Moments later, Australia were reduced to 10 men when Cahill was harshly dismissed for a foul on Bastian Schweinsteiger. Cahill’s challenge was late but was not studs up or malicious. The red card ended Australia’s resistance and Germany cashed in with quickfire goals from Muller and Cacau. First Podolski burst infield and found Muller who calmly picked his spot in the corner before Ozil squared for a simple finish for Cacau, who had been on the field less than two minutes. It was a first international goal for both forwards. Cacau could have made an even quicker impact but Sami Khedira failed to pick him out at the near post.
Having named a line-up that screamed containment, it was surprising to see Australia so much on the front foot early on. Starting without a recognised striker, Pim Verbeek deployed Cahill and Garcia in advance of a four-man midfield. It was a move that initially looked promising, with several Australian bodies arriving from deep when in possession of the ball. The limitations of the system were soon made apparent. With no player naturally acting as a target, it became increasingly difficult for Australia to sustain attacking pressure. Once Germany got a hold of the game in midfield, it was easy for their defence to cope with the movement of the make-shift forwards.
The German success was largely inspired by the exciting movement and dribbling of Ozil who was popping up all over the attacking third and proving difficult for the Australian defence to cope with. Equally important to their overall control was the discipline shown by Bastian Schweinsteiger, a player who four years ago held Ozil’s role as the creative hub of the team. Having picked up a red card at Euro 2008, a newly matured Schweinsteiger was playing a crucial role for the Germans, sitting between the midfield and the deep-lying Cahill and Garcia. Denying the Australian pair the chance to influence the game meant a lot of possession for Germany, and in particular Ozil, to exploit. Podolski looked a lot more relaxed in a German shirt than he has in club colours for a long time, and his passing nearly led to two further German goals before half time.
The loss of Cahill for at least their next game against Ghana will only make it harder for Australia to bounce back after this comprehensive defeat. After some superb refereeing displays so far at the World Cup, it was Cahill who was the unlucky recipient of the first significant bad decision by an official. Whilst his challenge on Schweinsteiger was poor, it was worthy of no more than a caution, and was not too dissimilar to a challenge by Carl Valeri that later went unpunished. With Verbeek’s reluctance to play his most established centre-forward, Josh Kennedy, Cahill is Australia’s main goal threat and his aerial prowess and clever runs will be missed. The Australians look a shadow of the side that impressed so much at the last World Cup under Guus Hiddink, and it is difficult to see how they will improve on this result without their talisman.
German Coach Joachim Low has quite the opposite dilemma to contend with. Having been criticised in some circles for favouring Klose over Cacau, he has seen both strikers score and put forward strong cases for selection. Klose was a constant threat throughout, taking his goal with typical aplomb but perhaps lacking his usual ruthlessness, seeing some glorious chances go begging. It would be hard to make a case to change the team after such a cohesive performance, but Cacau’s supporters will point out that he took his first effort on goal, a chance that was on a par for difficulty with the one missed on 24 minutes by Klose. With Podolski and Muller both scoring, and further attacking options on the bench, it is a dilemma Low will be delighted to have.
Germany – Neuer – Lahm, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Badstuber – Khedira, Schweinsteiger – Muller, Ozil (Gomez 74), Podolski (Marin 81) – Klose (Cacau 69)
Australia – Schwarzer – Wilkshere, Neill, Moore, Chipperfield – Valeri, Grella (Holman 46)- Emerton (Jedinak), Cahill, Culina – Garcia (Rukavytsya 64)