CAPE TOWN - Germany's effervescent 4-0
destruction of heavily-fancied Argentina on Saturday was
achieved by a team that has almost imperceptibly developed football 's holy-grail blend of youth and experience.
After tearing England apart 4-1 in the second round with a
devastating display of counter-attacking, the rampant Germans
handed Argentina an unimaginable spanking.
Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira were bundles of
fizzing energy as they tore into Diego Maradona's shellshocked
Coach Joachim Low deserves huge credit for giving the
youngsters their head, but it should also be remembered that he
kept faith with some old hands when all around him were
questioning his wisdom.
Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose both had wretched club
seasons but, back in harness for the national team, they looked
Klose's two goals made it a 100th international appearance
to cherish while Podolski, still only 25 but winning his 78th
cap, was a tireless runner whose movement left Argentina's
defenders chasing shadows.
Muller, who is set to cruelly miss the semi-final against
either Spain or Paraguay because of a harsh second booking for
handball, got the ball rolling with a glancing header.
Klose tapped in the crucial second and finished off the
extraordinary rout with his 52nd international goal and 14th in
World Cups - level with Gerd Muller and second now only to
The third goal was from a less likely source as 31-year-old
centre-back Arne Friedrich tapped in his first for his country
in his 77th appearance.
The glue linking young and old, defence and attack is
Still only 25 he half-belongs in the youthful vigour camp
but with 79 caps already he is also one of the wise old heads of
In the injury-enforced absence of Michael Ballack,
Schweinsteiger has matured into Germany's focal point in this
tournament, growing in authority with every passing match.
Having set up the opening goal with a wicked free kick he
went on to deliver an absolutely terrific performance.
Like a squash player dominating the "T" he bestrode the
centre circle and outshone everyone in an Argentina shirt.
Spreading passes long and short, prompting his team mates
into space then overlapping and joining the attack when he saw a
gap, it was a midfield masterclass that Ballack, watching from
the stands, could surely only marvel at.
Credit is also due to the German defence, which did a superb
job of muzzling Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez - something that had proved impossible for every other team
Argentina had faced in the tournament.
Messi, crowded out whenever he got near the ball, ended the
game a frustrated figure reduced to hopeful, and usually
wayward, long-distance shots.
He goes home in disappointment, his reputation as a world
great a little tarnished.
Germany march on, meanwhile, with reputations being
burnished all over the field.
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