(Results: GERMANY 4-1 ENGLAND, ARGENTINA 3-1 MEXICO)
It was a day which saw the Germans tame The Three Lions, but not in their trademark disciplined, efficient, and organised way; their attacks were reminiscent of a certain Blitzkrieg due to their clinical precision and breath-taking speed. In the second match of the day, Argentina defeated a spirited Mexican side, scoring goals as different in character as they were in quality. Both the knock-out matches were marred by some incidents that can only be termed as blasphemous to the beautiful game.
Star of the day: Thomas Müller (Germany)
Is it all in a name? Thomas Müller’s metioric rise in world football is a stunning story; although he’s just 20 years old, comparisons are being drawn with the legendary Gerd Müller.
“He is just a fantastic player. He can play on the left, on the right, he is good in the air. He is ‘Mister Goal’ for me.”, Gerd Mueller, whose stunning 68 goals in 62 appearances for Germany put him at the top of their scorers’ list, said in an interview.
In the clash against England, the young Bayern Munich man could do nothing wrong. He set up Podolski for Germany’s second goal, linked up well with his team-mates, and scored a brace himself to do justice to the best counter-attacking football seen in this World Cup. No wonder the world is drooling over him!
Team of the day: Germany
Who would have thought that Germany would lighten up the biggest stage in World football with their mesmerizing display of football? Not even the most ardent of supporters on the streets of Berlin expected much from the ‘Loew’ly team, after the German captain Michael Ballack was ruled out of South Africa’10, but the beauty of sports lies in its unpredictable nature. Ozil, Muller, Khedira and Neuer, though being young, have not shown any nerves while playing for the German senior team, appearing as though they have been here for years.
The break-neck speed at which they attack leaves their opponents running for cover. Their flair, creativity and movement is way too hot for any team; even the English will vouch for it. Now Argentina will face these young stars in the quarter-finals, and Maradona needs to plan well if he has to get his team past this irrestible German side.
God-forsaken team of the day: England
In the final of England’66, the Germans cried themselves hoarse after conceding a goal when the ball apparently didn’t cross the line; yesterday it was the turn of the Englishmen to curse the gods, when they met revenge in its meanest form. Frank Lampard perfectly legitimate goal was dismissed by the officials, as if it was born out of a ‘Terry’ble misadventure.
Here was a team that was hailed as a golden generation, even before they won anything altogether. The notorious English media has crucified them at every turn, but has never failed to hype them as the best team ever to play football. In their last tournament together, they left the stage crestfallen. If the disallowed goal wasn’t enough, Lampard even struck the crossbar from 35 yards out; on any other day The Three Lions would have found themselves leading the Germans 2-3.
After many penalty shoot-out heartbreaks, the footballing gods have yet again shown them the door; only this time they even decided to outplay them, rather than just letting them leave with a sense of injustice.
Ugliness of the day – Argentina’s first goal and scenes thereafter
Argentina took the lead in extremely controversial circumstances, when Messi’s goal-bound shot was headed home by an opportunistic Tevez, who was miles off-side. The Mexicans, in denial, surrounded the referee and the linesman. Even the Argentineans joined the ruckus, with each side trying to plead their case. The referee lost the plot and was unable to control the situation. Eventually, the two wise officials decided to let the goal stand.
Gift of the day: Gonzalo Higuain’s goal
If the officials had gifted Maradona with a goal earlier, it was the Mexican themselves, who did the honours this time, when Ricardo Osoria turned suicidal – he did a Gerrard. Higuain gratefully accepted the gift to score his fouth goal of the tournament.
Goal of the day: Carlos Tevez (Argentina’s third goal)
Carloz Tevez scored a 25-yard screamer to redeem himself of all the ugliness (yes, the first goal), and did his bit to take the match beyond their central American rivals.
South American spirit of the day: Mexico
El Tri were an epitome of perseverence against the Argentineans. Despite being at the recieving end of referee’s wrath, committing a blunder and seeing one of the goals of the tounament being scored against them, they just refused to throw in the towel. In the opening exchanges, they had the better opportunities – Salcido’s 40-yard effort was stopped only by the crossbar, and Guardado came excruciatingly close to scoring the opener.
Even after going three goals down, their shoulders did not drop; Javier Hernandez scored on the turn, to give the Mexicans some hope of overturning the deficit. Eventually, all their efforts went in vain as they were ousted by their bitter rivals, but their performance has earned at least a mention here.