World Cup 2010: Miroslav Klose helps Germany put four past Australia



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Posted Monday, June 14, 2010 by theguardian.com

World Cup 2010: Miroslav Klose helps Germany put four past Australia

Germany, once again, are wasting little time showing the world why their name should always figure prominently when the list of potential World Cup winners is being put together. This is the sixth successive tournament in which they have won their opening game, and they did so here in a manner that suggests they are immune to the nerves that have afflicted other teams in the opening days of this tournament.

The damage was done by two goals in the first half, from Lucas Podolski and Miroslav Klose, followed by two more after the interval, from Thomas Müller and the substitute Cacau. That reflected the team's superiority on a night that was not without controversy.

Ten minutes into the second half, the Australia midfielder Tim Cahill lunged in to try to take the ball from Bastian Schweinsteiger. The tackle was misdirected and poorly timed, but there was loud disbelief when the Mexican referee, Marco Rodríguez, brandished a red card. Cahill's fate will now be sealed by a Fifa disciplinary committee – he could conceivably be suspended for two games. On the evidence of this Australian display, that could mean that his World Cup is already over.

The Everton player is entitled to be aggrieved, but there was a measure of frustration in his challenge. By that stage it was clear the night was going to be an ordeal for Pim Verbeek's side. Australia were obliging opponents at times, but it would not be fair to dwell too much on their deficiencies if it meant detracting from the Germans' performance.

Germany are sometimes described as "efficient", "robotic" and "dour". On this occasion they deserved more glowing words, and it would be a good thing for World Cup 2010 if some of the other countries were to take note and replicate their commitment to attack. This is Germany's youngest World Cup squad for 76 years, and they played with a sense of freedom that is not always associated with their country.

Australia did not have a recognised striker, their forward line featuring only Richard Garcia, normally a winger. The idea was that Cahill would push forward from midfield. The teamsheets summed up the gulf between the sides. Germany were led by Klose, who might have scored only three times in the Bundesliga last season but who now has 11 World Cup goals and realistic hopes of reaching Ronaldo's record of 15. Jerome Boateng, Manchester City's £10.5m signing from Hamburg, was on the bench and there was no starting place either for Mario Gomez, the most expensive player in German history and a former Bundesliga footballer of the year. Compare that to Australia's selection of Craig Moore, a battered old centre-half who once played for Rangers and Newcastle United but has more recently been with Brisbane Roar and AO Kavala. He is now a free agent.

The strange thing was that the team including representatives from Gold Coast United, Sassuolo Calcio of Italy's second division and Hull City came tantalisingly close to opening the scoring before most of their opponents even had a scuff of dirt on their kits. Unfortunately for them, Cahill's header struck his own player, Lucas Neill, and Garcia's attempt to turn in the rebound was blocked by Philipp Lahm.

Instead, Joachim Löw's team were ahead within five minutes, with a goal that was classy in its creation and clinical in its execution. Mesut Ozil set it up, with a neat turn and a finely weighted pass behind the Australian defence. Müller was alert and first to the ball, and though his cut back went behind Klose it fell invitingly for Podolski to demonstrate the power of his left foot. His shot had too much pace for Mark Schwarzer to keep out, though the Australia goalkeeper got his right glove to the ball.

The direction of play for the remainder of the half was almost unrelentingly towards the Australia goal. Ozil excelled, his performance marred only by a yellow card for diving in a tournament that has largely been free of such behaviour so far. Klose fired a shot straight at Schwarzer, aimed another wide and then scored with a header of bravery and distinction.

Again, the goal came from the right. Lahm, always willing to break from defence, swung over a cross that asked for Klose to get in between Schwarzer and Neill and risk getting hurt by a flailing punch. He obliged, and scored his 49th international goal.

Even with 11 men, Australia were floundering. Cahill's dismissal opened more gaps and Germany were ruthless. Müller made it 3-0 with a low right-foot drive that went in off a post and Cacau had been on the pitch only a few minutes when he turned in Ozil's low cross from the left. Did Germany miss Michael Ballack? No, not at all.



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