Klose 20, Podolski 32, Muller 67 70
The main talking point in Germany’s demolition of England in the round of 16 World Cup game will no doubt be Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal at 2-1 down and how it cost England the match. However this would do a serious disservice to the explosive young German team that came of age, when many doubted their ability.
The Nationalmannschaft included six players in this squad that starred for the European U-21 Championship victory in 2009 – Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Marko Marin and Dennis Aogo. Ozil and Khedira especially have been impressive in this World Cup , the spark plugs that have provided the flair and creativity of seasoned veterans. At 21 and 23 respectively they have shown a maturity beyond their years, at a moment in their careers when they have been written off as too young to prosper in a major tournament. People have been commenting that this is a tournament too early for this current crop of talented youngsters. However it can be argued they are good enough right now to succeed.
Ozil and Khedira have really taken control of this German team in their respective roles. Khedira has flourished in the holding role he took over when Michael Ballack was ruled out of the tournament, seamlessly pushing forward, while tracking back to his main defensive role. Ozil, playing off the striker, usually Miroslav Klose, has provided defence-splitting assists to his teammates and was devastating on the counter attack, beating Gareth Barry for pace and calmly setting up Thomas Muller to score Germany’s fourth goal against England and inflicting the heaviest defeat on the 1966 winners in their World Cup history.
Speaking of Thomas Muller, he is yet another one of these mercurial youngsters stamping their mark on the tournament. He is the baby of the group, at 20 years of age. The Bayern Munich man has bagged three goals already in South Africa, two against England and the superb long range effort against Australia. Muller capitalised on England’s shambolic defending by continually bombing down the wing and linking with Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lucas Podolski in an explosive counter-attack that left England dazed.
Germany has an average age of just under 25 and this tournament has not fazed them, they have shown no fear and are playing like genuine contenders. The combination of youth and experience has been meshed well, with Schweinsteiger assuming a leadership role for the more younger players. He has improved dramatically, ever since changing to a more central role for club and country and has dictated matches throughout the World Cup. What is scary is the fact that he is only 25, which means he will get infinitely better in a few years time.
For all their talent going forward, Germany do have issues at the back, specifically Per Mertesacker, who has not looked like a quality international defender for years. An expected quarter-final encounter with an equally gifted Argentina side should be a brilliant spectacle to behold, with both teams attacking the other’s vulnerable defence.
This team has shown they are not out of place in big games and will no doubt relish a chance to pit their wits against another big nation in Argentina. They are continuing to prove the doubters wrong about their ability to handle big occasions. They say the future looks bright for this German team, but the future is now.