CAPE TOWN -
Germany outclassed Argentina
4-0 with a superb attacking display to hand their old rivals
their worst World Cup defeat in 52 years and reach the
semi-finals on Saturday.
Diego Maradona's team, among the favourites after four
successive wins at the tournament, had only brief spells of
control in the quarter-final from the moment Thomas Muller
headed Joachim Low's Germans into a third-minute lead.
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Much was expected from Lionel
Messi, who was still looking
for his first goal at the finals, but Argentina hardly
threatened Manuel Neuer's goal as they were easily knocked off
their close passing game.
was Argentina's worst World Cup defeat since the 1958
finals in Sweden when they lost 6-1 to Czechoslovakia, as their
reliance on a sometimes naive passing game was exposed by a fast
European side with precision passes and running into space.
Rather than avenging a defeat on
penalties by Germany at the
same stage of the 2006 finals, Argentina were definitely second
best at the Green Point stadium.
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"Today our team was incredibly
convincing in our defensive
play to totally neutralise Messi," Low told a news conference.
"What the team showed today in
terms of determination to win
was the sort you would expect from champions, also the ambition
they showed, the speed and attacking tempo we showed in the
second half, it was absolute class."
A deflated Maradona told
reporters: "This was like a punch
from Muhammad Ali.
doesn't knock my pride in my players because I
know the result is not a reflection of what happened on the
pitch. They put in their chances, we also had some."
He added it was too early to
discuss his own future.
could go tomorrow, but I want these kids to go on showing
the real Argentine football," he said. "(Messi) had a great
World Cup ... (he didn't score) because the ball lifted or
goalkeepers were their teams' stars."
Bastian Schweinsteiger, commanding
in the middle, was superb
marshalling the Germans' counter-attacks with the help of the
creative Mesut Ozil.
Mascherano was often overrun as he tried to do the
job of two men in the middle for Argentina while Maradona paid
the price for opting against fielding veteran Juan Sebastian
Veron, who might have steadied the team and brought depth to
slipped away from Argentina's defence at a
Schweinsteiger free-kick from the left wing to head home at the
near post and put Germany one up after just three minutes with
his fourth goal of the finals.
Argentina nearly conceded a second
close to the half hour
but Klose, alone in the middle, shot over the bar.
Gonzalo Higuain, who has scored
four goals at his first
finals, had the ball in the German net late in the first half
but it was ruled offside.
Argentina came out for the second half determined to take
the game to the Germans but Loew's side held out with winger
Angel Di Maria coming closest with a left-footed shot from the
right that went just wide of the far post.
Klose, who took his World Cup
tally to 14, one short of
Brazilian Ronaldo's record, tapped in the second from Lucas
Podolski's low cross from the left in the 68th minute and
rounded off the rout in the 89th with a volley from Ozil's
In between, veteran
defender Arne Friedrich scored his first
Man-of-the-match Schweinsteiger, speaking on German
television, said: "We may have to play Spain next - they're the
best team in the world, in my view. But we're good enough, we
believe in ourselves."
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