England New Boys Show World Cup Flops How It’s Done

England powered past the minnows of Hungary as they looked to the future after the dismal World Cup in South Africa.

A surprisingly pleasant England performance meant that Fabio Capello’s side came away from Wembley with a 2-1 victory.
Two brilliant goals from captain Steven Gerrard cancelled out an own goal from Michael Dawson which looked to be unfairly ruled as over the goal line.
England were playing their first game after their dreary showing in South Africa where they were knocked out by Germany in the last-16 after Joachim Lowe’s side completely outclassed the English side.
After many called for Fabio Capello to give some of the younger English players a chance the Italian, who came under heavy pressure after the World Cup, originally selected three new faces for the 23-man squad. Bobby Zamora, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs were all chosen, along with the usual contingent of mediocre stars. Within days, though, talk of a crisis within the England camp had emerged. Goalkeeper Paul Robinson withdrew from the squad and retired from international football in what was an act of pettiness from the ‘keeper. Manchester United defender Wes Brown then did exactly the same only days later, while Birmingham City goalkeeper Ben Foster withdrew from the squad through injury. Watford and England Under-21 goalkeeper, Scott Loach, was called up to cover while Frankie Fielding, who has only made five appearances for England at youth level and is currently Blackburn’s number four goalkeeper, was also called up. Adam Johnson and Theo Walcott were also included in the squad after missing out on a World Cup place, while Phil Jagielka made a return after the torrid season he endured last term. The squad may have had some surprises; the actual first eleven did not.
The booing, which was predicted by Gerrard and Capello, was minimal before the game when the players came onto the pitch to warm up. The majority of fans were looking forward to seeing the young blood of English football being brought through into the senior side. Capello, though, decided to start with seven of the World Cup side. Dawson, Carlton Cole, Darren Bent and Zamora all played well last season, with the three strikers being among the best strikers in the country. None of these players started in the first half, though.
Capello started with Joe Hart in goal with the predictable back-line of Glen Johnson, John Terry, Jagielka and Ashley Cole. The midfield was the same-old Gareth Barry-Steven Gerrard-Frank Lampard combination, with Adam Johnson getting a chance to shine on the left of midfield and Walcott on the other side. Rooney was put up front on his own in what was a change in formation for England at a time when many fans wanted a change in personnel.
Hungary may not be the team they used to be (the 1954 World Cup runner-up side will forever remain in the memory of so many) but they certainly have some quality in their side. Sandor Egervari’s side, who are currently sixty-second in the FIFA world rankings, started with Zoltan Gera of Fulham playing just behind Genoa striker Gergely Rudolf. Gabor Kiraly, formerly of Crystal Palace and Burnley, started in goal while Zoltan Liptak, of Hungarian club side Videoton FC, made his debut for Hungary at centre-back.
In an interview that was shown before the match on ITV, Capello uncomfortably stated that he was thankful to David Beckham’s ‘help’ during the World Cup but the Italian ended by saying that the former Manchester United star would be ‘too old’ for the EURO 2012 tournament. Beckham has himself alleged that he wants to be involved in that tournament in a playing capacity. The comments made by Capello surely put an end to the thirty-five-year-old’s fantastic international career.
The days of enjoying an England performance were thought to be long gone after years of gruelling, hard-fought matches. The match against Hungary, though, couldn’t have been more different. The side played attacking football throughout and, with the formation being a 4-5-1 which then merged into 4-3-3, the quality of football was a delight to watch.
The side had clearly been sent out with the clear message to attack at will; Hungary had very little quality in their side and, as the Premier League season is only days away, England were clearly more match-fit than their opponents. A corner was swung in for England within two minutes and defender Jagielka came close to scoring his first international goal.
The idea of Manchester United striker Rooney not giving his all in a football match is almost unthinkable but the forward didn’t look interested in the World Cup. Rooney was certainly interested in this game, though, scoring within three minutes, only for the linesman to put his flag up for offside. Rooney had been supplied by Gerrard, who bossed the midfield all night long.
Hungary had very little going forward and it was a midfielder who had their first chance of the match. Akos Elec, though, could only manage a firm header straight at Hart. His opposite number, Jagielka, was again found in a position in front of goal but could only stab the ball into the side netting.
Walcott and right-back Johnson linked up well during the first half and, after a good pass from the Liverpool defender Walcott skipped past one Hungarian defender and played the ball across the box. Winger Johnson couldn’t believe his luck as the ball was put on a plate for the Manchester City midfielder. The twenty-three-year-old, though, placed the ball over the bar from ten yards.
Rooney struggled to create much in the game but other players around him were finding more joy. A run from left-back by Cole was brilliantly found by Gerrard, only for the Chelsea man to fire the ball across goal, eluding Rooney. Gerrard was beginning to get a foot-hold in the game and nearly scored a free kick from a difficult position, only for Kiraly to palm the ball over the bar.
Walcott has enjoyed a strong pre-season with Arsenal after a season full of injuries last term. The winger looked extremely quick and seems to have improved his final ball after many have criticised his lack of quality when it comes to crossing in good areas. The former Southampton man breezed past defenders on countless occasions and put some good balls into the area, only to be met by a clearance from the opposition as no one was making runs into the box. At half-time the teams were level, in terms of goals at least, and the distaste of this score was shown when the side were booed off by the England faithful. The first half was an impressive one that lacked goals. For the second half, though, Capello chose to ring the changes.
Walcott was brought off for Ashley Young with the view of better delivery of crosses, while Gibbs and Dawson were brought on for Ashley Cole and John Terry respectively. Striker Bobby Zamora was also brought on as he, Dawson and Gibbs made their first appearances for the senior English side. The Fulham striker was brought on for Lampard who struggled to do much in the game. The Chelsea midfielder was forced to play more of a conservative role as Gerrard pushed on to support Rooney. Zamora now partnered the Manchester United striker up front with Gerrard playing behind them and the reliable Gareth Barry holding it all together in the centre of midfield. Johnson switched to the right to allow Young to play in his favoured left-wing position.
The changes seemed to engulf the Hungarian side as a ball out wide by Rooney found Young, who was hugging the touchline. The Aston Villa midfielder hit a ball across the area, just missing the boot of Zamora. It was the Fulham man who was again in the thick of the action as he found himself on the edge of the area but, again, there was no in the box. Zamora did excellently well to hold the ball up and even managed to feed Rooney, who teed up Gerrard on the edge of the area. The Liverpool icon, though, fired over and fans began to get restless as the game began to get closer to the hour mark. A volley from midfielder Johnson went just over as England seemed to be in complete control.
For all England’s dominance, though, it was the opposition who opened the scoring. After Dawson was too quick to slide in Gera stormed away past the defender and played the ball to his teammate on the left who fired the ball towards goal from a tricky angle. Jagielka managed to decrease the pace of the shot by getting a foot on it but even the desperate attempts of Dawson couldn’t stop the referee from pointing towards the half-way line to signal for a goal. Television replays seemed to show the ball was not over the line and the incident is sure to provoke more discussion for the need of technology in football after Lampard’s infamous goal in the World Cup against Germany.
Nevertheless England were behind to a side that they should be beating with great ease. A disappointing Rooney was brought off for Milner which meant that the 4-5-1 formation was restored. As Rooney departed the pitch he was met by boos from the fans, with which the striker decided to give an ironic wave to all the fans. The smug grin on his face was not nice to see.
The return to the Chelsea-like system seemed to have a big impact on the team. With Zamora playing as the big striker up front and Gerrard playing off him, the two wingers on the pitch found it easier to get a firm grasp of the game. Gibbs and Young worked extremely well together down the left and it was the Arsenal defender who started the move for the equaliser.
After a strong run forward from Gibbs the young defender ran into trouble on the edge of the box. The ball rebounded to Gerrard who took a few touches forward and fired the ball into the top corner. The strike was oh-so-familiar to Gerrard in a Liverpool shirt but the midfielder has struggled to repeat the quality of his club performances for the national side. The screamer of an equaliser was soon followed by a goal of sheer quality. After more great work from Young on the wing Gerrard found himself in the area with his back to goal, with three defenders and a goalkeeper to get past. The midfielder stepped past all three defenders and somehow beat Kiraly to the ball and poked home from three yards. The England fans were certainly not booing now.
The fact that the three debutants and some of the less-experienced players performed well in the friendly will be a huge bonus to Capello and England. Gibbs already looks like a composed and solid defender while Dawson, even with the unfortunate own goal going against his name, played really well at centre-back alongside the impressive Jagielka. Zamora, who was making his debut at the age of thirty, also played a blinder and almost scored a cracker from twenty yards after chesting down a ball and volleying over the bar. The much-hyped Jack Wilshere, who has been tipped as the next big thing for England, struggled to make much of an impact but seemed to be comfortable in midfield. This season is definitely a big one for the Arsenal youngster.
Young and Johnson, as well as Walcott in the first half, impressed on the wings; the problem-position of the left of midfield could well be over with Joe Cole also available in that position. A Zamora header was well saved after Young put in a corner to the back-post and, from the other side, Johnson very nearly scored a belter from thirty yards but the shot was sent for a corner by the ‘keeper.
England will look at this friendly, which has been dubbed by many as pointless due to the timing of the match with the new Premier League season starting this weekend, as a step in the right direction and Capello should be pleased with impact that the youngsters and debutants made. Rooney still doesn’t look like a particularly happy player; the striker hasn’t scored a competitive goal for club or country since the end of March. Gerrard’s quality and passion shown in this game is encouraging and a good performance from Hart will give the side great confidence going into the imminent EURO 2012 qualifiers. England should not get too carried away, though, as a 2-1 win against a team placed in the bottom half of the top one hundred teams is hardly the stuff of world-beaters.
How did England do?

Joe Hart – 8
The Manchester City goalkeeper could find it difficult to break into the first team this season with Shay Given seemingly in front of him in the pecking order. Hart, though, did himself no harm with a solid performance in goal with comfortable saves throughout. His distribution and communication with his defence is a massive asset to England.
Glen Johnson – 6
He continued his poor form from the World Cup into this game. The Liverpool right-back looked good going forward but was weak at the back and gave the ball away too much. The right-back position for England is a problem.
John Terry – 7
Terry was booed by some fans at Wembley but brushed that aside as he put in a solid performance at centre-back in the first half.
Phil Jagielka – 8
The Everton man was strong at the back and played well with both partners that he was given during the game. Jagielka will be glad to be back playing football after last season’s torrid time of injuries.
Ashley Cole – 7
Like Terry, Cole was also booed although that might not have anything to do with the World Cup. Cole was as firm as ever at left-back but was somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of Gibbs.
Theo Walcott – 8
The Arsenal winger looks fresh and raring to go ready for the new season and breezed past every Hungarian defender that came his way. If Walcott can improve his crossing further he could be a fantastic winger.
Gareth Barry – 7
Barry was strong in midfield, linking up well with whoever was on the pitch and bridged the gap well between the defence and attack. Barry is the perfect partner for Gerrard in the middle.
Frank Lampard – 6
The Chelsea man had a decent game but struggled to create much as he played a more unadventurous role. He was brought off for Zamora who gave the side something different.
Steven Gerrard – 9
The captain was superb in midfield, marshalling all areas of the pitch and aiding in every attack. He scored the goals, both of which were brilliant, and showed the passion that so many fans have been calling for.
Adam Johnson – 8
Johnson played better in the second half when he was switched over to the right side, enabling the Manchester City winger to cut inside. He missed a sitter in the first half but looks to be a great prospect for England.
Wayne Rooney – 7
Another game without a goal goes by for Rooney who seems to have got his desire back. Rooney struggled to create a lot but the wingers and Gerrard found it easier to play thanks to the space that Rooney created.
Michael Dawson – 8
He scored the own-goal but shouldn’t be remembered for that alone as the Tottenham defender played well at centre-back. He and Jagielka could well be the future for England.
Ashley Young – 8
Young was superb on a fantastic night for wingers. His crossing, pace and skill makes him one of the best wingers in the Premier League. It is only a matter of time before Young explodes onto the England scene once and for all.
Kieran Gibbs – 9
The Arsenal defender played absolutely brilliantly at left-back. The twenty-year-old didn’t have much to do in terms of defending and so enjoyed a lot of time in the opposition’s half. His link-up play with Young was also good to see.
Bobby Zamora – 8
The striker came on for Lampard at half-time and gave England something completely different. His height, power in the air and pace on the ground made him superior to Rooney in this game; the Fulham player also came close to scoring on his debut on a few occasions.
Jack Wilshere – 6
He didn’t really get much time to impress but a few good touches in the middle of the park show that Wilshere is comfortable on the ball. England fans will have to wait and see whether the excitement that has been created about the Arsenal man is worth it or not.
England 2 – 1 Hungary
Gerrard 69, 72  Jagielka (OG) 61


My Team Of Flops From The 2010 World Cup

Many big names failed to live up to high expectations in South Africa. Players from great nations such as Brazil, England and Spain all had lacklustre performances, with many players seeming to lack passion and drive for their respective countries. Here is my team of disappointments from the 2010 World Cup:

    Federico Marchetti
The Italian ‘keeper was brought in after number one goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon injured himself in the first group game, and the Cagliari stopper never looked sure at the back of a defence that was far from solid. The 2006 champions crashed out in the group stages in South Africa after draws against Paraguay and New Zealand, with a loss against Slovakia determining their fate. Marchetti was beaten too easily in that match, although the poor defence in front of him didn’t help.

Jamie Carragher  
Thanks, but no thanks. Carragher took the gracious step of coming out of international retirement, only to have an absolute shocker against Algeria. He was off the pace in that game and against USA when he came on for an injured Ledley King. He received a booking in each of these games and so received a one-match ban for the third game against Slovenia. Carragher has now retired, once again, from England. The Liverpool centre-back will be gladly missed.

Glen Johnson
If Johnson is the best right-back that England have, then we’re in serious trouble. The Liverpool defender possessed the first touch of a baby elephant during the World Cup, and he was caught out on various occasions. A defender that cost the Scouse side £17 million was a major weakness for an already feeble England side. 

Patrice Evra
 Not just for his lack of determination on the pitch but for his disgraceful behaviour off it. The French left-back, along with other senior players, didn’t like manager Raymond Domenech’s style of managing and so decided to take it into their own hands, costing France a decent World Cup run in the meanwhile. The Manchester United star, who captained his side in South Africa, lacked any real passion whilst playing, concentrating more on showing his frustrations to the manager.

Fabio Cannavaro
The man who lifted the 2006 trophy saw his side crash out in the group stages as an aged Italy side failed to impress at all. Cannavaro has joined UAE Football League side Al-Ahli Dubai and says that he wishes to end his career in Dubai. The former-Real Madrid, Juventus and Inter Milan centre-back was a shadow of the man from 2006 in Germany. This is probably the last World Cup that Cannavaro will play in; what a disappointment to go out on. The only highlight of his tournament was handing over the trophy at the end of the 2010 World Cup.

One of the greatest midfielders to ever grace this earth has had a poor season and an even worse World Cup. Kaka joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 for a fee of over £50 million but the former AC Milan star looked sheepish throughout the tournament, not managing to score in the four games he played in. 

Franck Ribery

The French midfielder had a torrid season at Bayern Munich, both on and off the pitch, and Ribery’s season didn’t improve in South Africa. In a French side that was led astray by revolutions and poor management, Ribery was pretty much invisible in poor displays by the French.

Shaun Wright-Phillips
The Manchester City midfielder didn’t get much of a chance in this World Cup but, when he did come on, he was nothing short of awful. His poor touch as well a refusal to actually run past people was not what England needed. Fabio Capello’s decision to take him to South Africa in the first place was controversial, with Aaron Lennon already on the plane. The Tottenham winger is the same sort of player as Wright-Phillips, although Lennon is the better model.

Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portuguese star may have scored one goal, in the 7-0 drubbing of North Korea, but he never lived up to expectations and struggled in a side that boasts very little quality. Portugal’s tactics of kicking teams off the pitch worked against teams such as Ivory Coast and Brazil, but Spain were too good for them in the last 16. Ronaldo couldn’t seem to get his shooting right with the new Jabulani ball, and the former-Manchester United striker capped off a trophy-less season with Real Madrid with a poor national team showing.


Wayne Rooney 

On a par with the best in the world? On the basis of this World Cup, definitely not. The Manchester United striker put in some lacklustre performances for England and failed to score in either of their four games. Rooney may have been burnt out, or under a lot of pressure, but he still under-performed drastically and lacked energy in a disappointing campaign for England.

Fernando Torres
After a below-average season at Liverpool it would have been wrong for the world to assume that Torres was going to set South Africa alight. The Spanish striker didn’t manage to score in a campaign that saw Spain go all the way to the final. Torres looked off the pace and seemed to lack confidence in his own ability, losing the ball in good positions for Spain. Two world-class strikers; two massive disappointments. 

Manager: Raymond Domenech

The now-former-France manager created havoc for his team by not keeping his players on his side, causing the team to revolt. The World Cup could not have gone worse for Domenech and his side, who crashed out in the group stages, finishing bottom of the group with only a point, three points behind South Africa.


My Team Of The 2010 World Cup

In a tournament that was more about team work, passion and togetherness, many so-called world-class players struggled to live up to their reputations. There were though, some surprise stars and some big names who made the world jump out of their seats. Here is my team of stars from the 2010 World Cup:

Iker Casillas
The Spanish ‘keeper was reduced to tears after Spain claimed their first World Cup triumph in their history. The 29-year-old was participating in his third World Cup and, after a shaky start against Switzerland in the first game, the Real Madrid star looked assured throughout. Casillas, as captain, had the honour of lifting the trophy for his country, and was voted ‘Goalkeeper of the tournament’ by FIFA.

Fabio Coentrao
The Benfica defender had a fine tournament within a side that disappointed greatly. With Cristiano Ronaldo struggling to live up to expectations, Portugal were knocked out by Spain in the quarter-finals. Coentrao, though, shone in South Africa, with many top sides now apparently in the hunt for the left-back.

Ryan Nelson
A New Zealand player in the World Cup team of the tournament is not exactly the norm. The Blackburn Rovers centre-back, though, looked assured and strong amongst a team that went way above expectations, finishing third in the group, above Italy. Nelsongave the ‘All Whites’ much needed experience and Premier League quality to help them do their country proud. 

John Mensah
Ghana performed above-and-beyond expectations and had the whole of Africa depending on them after they were the last representatives from Africa left in the tournament. A major part of the Black Stars’ success was the formidable defence, which was boosted by another star Kevin-Prince Boateng, who could also be a contender for a place in this team of the tournament. Mensah was on loan at Sunderland last season and there are rumours that the centre-back, who provided stability and experience alongside the youthfulness of Isaac Vorsah, could make a return to the Premier League this season. Mensah currently plays for French side Lyon, who will be eager to retain the services of the Ghanaian captain.

Brazil had a disappointing tournament, with stars such as Kaka and Luis Fabiano drastically under-performing. Juan, though, was the rock in a side that was more defensive than fans of Brazil are used to seeing. The Roma centre-back scored against Chile in the second round and provided strength and power to a side that lacked any diversity or determination under manager Dunga, who has now been relieved of his duties.

Bastian Schweinsteiger
The German midfielder was an unexpected star at this year’s World Cup as Germany’s young side made it all the way to the semi-finals, where they were beaten by Spain. Schweinsteiger was a much needed head of experience amongst young players such as Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira, and the Bayern Munich winger possessed great technique and agile footing to control games, especially against England and Argentina.

Thomas Muller 

Schweinsteiger’s club teammate may be more accustomed to playing through the middle for his side, but Muller made the right-hand side his own as he scored four goals in the tournament, a great feat for a player who hadn’t scored for his country before these finals. The Bayern Munich forward got a brace against England to send the disappointing nation home, with many teams in England now being linked to the striker. Muller, though, looks set to sign a new contract with Bayern. The German scored five goals in South Africa to put himself above players such as Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina and national teammate Miroslav Klose, who was denied the chance to match Brazilian forward Ronaldo’s World Cup record of scoring the most goals, after he was left out of the starting line up to face Uruguay in the third-place play-off. Muller was given the Young Player of the Tournament award by FIFA. Muller also won the Golden Shoe award, which is given to the top goalscorer in the tournament. As Muller was level on goals with David Villa, Diego Forlan and Wesley Sneijder, the award went to the player with the most assists, with Muller claiming the victory with his three assists. 

Andes Iniesta

The Spanish star scored the winner in the final and was by far the best player on the pitch, not just in the final but in every game Spain played in. His passing, first touch and eye for goal is something that can only be dreamed of by an Englishman, and the fact that he plays in a midfield that consists of Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso, whilst leaving out Cesc Fabregas, shows that Spain truly are the best team in the world and fully deserved their victory over Holland.

Wesley Sneijder
The Dutch playmaker scored five goals for the World Cup finalists, with Sneijder providing the skill and technique needed to supply players such as Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. Unlike teammates Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong, who seemed determined to kick teams off the park in most encounters, Sneijder looked to link up well with strikers and wingers, whilst taking control in games against Brazil and Uruguay. The Inter Milan midfielder was another player to narrowly miss out on the Golden Shoe award, with Muller claiming the prize on assists.
                                                             David Villa

After signing for Barcelona before the World Cup had even began, many expected big things from the Spanish striker. He didn’t disappoint. Five goals and some wonderful performances have forced many to believe that he is the best striker in the world. He didn’t exactly set the world alight in the final, but Holland closed Villa out of the game, giving the striker no chance of creating anything in the match. The fact that Villa wasn’t a big part of the game may have contributed to the final being a poor showing, as Spain seemed to lack that cutting edge that the new Barcelona striker has. Villa narrowly missed out on the Golden Shoe award to Muller.

                                        Diego Forlan

The Uruguayan striker may not have been all that impressive at Manchester United, but Forlan scored five goals in the World Cup, all of which were absolute belters. The Atletico Madrid forward played just behind Suarez and Edinson Cavani, and showed his experience and expertise in hitting the target on various occasions. These fine performances have lead many to believe that Forlan could make a return to the Premier League, with Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth the most linked side. Forlan, though, says that he is happy in Spain. Forlan was awarded the Golden Ball award, an accolade for the best player in the tournament which is voted for by journalists at the competition.

Manager: Joachim Low
The German manger made some questionable decisions when picking his 23-man squad, mainly the fact that he left out Torsten Frings, who many thought would be the man to replace the injured Michael Ballack. However, Low included Lukas Podolski, who had had a poor season at Bayern Munich but shone in South Africa, while youngsters such as Muller, Khedira and Mesut Ozil played starring roles. His German side brushed aside England and Argentina with 4-1 and 4-0 wins respectively, although they could not get past a surprisingly resolute Spain side. Low, though, showed that he wasn’t afraid to pick better players rather than bigger names, something that Fabio Capello could learn from.

Germany Brush Aside Argentina

Germany thrashed Argentina in a thrilling match to put the European side into the semi-finals. Goals from Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose and Arne Friedrich sealed the impressive victory, with Argentina’s defence being made to look very poor.

After Sunday’s organised and potent thrashing of a poor England side, Germany were fired up for a game against a side that boasts, apparently, the best player in the world. Joachim Low’s side were clearly aware of this, with Bastien Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and even attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil marking Lionel Messi out of the game.
            Diego Maradona’s side brushed aside Mexico in the previous round to set up this encounter, although they did need a little help from a shocking refereeing decision to give Carlos Tevez his first goal in the match. The decision was the second refereeing howler of the day, prompting many to call for technology in football.
The game had a fiery start with forward Miroslav Klose going in strongly on Javier Mascherano, leaving the Argentinean midfielder writhing around on the floor. After Argentina right-back Nicolas Otamendi had fouled Lukas Podolski, however, the game was given its first goal.
            A brilliant in-swinging free-kick from Sweinsteiger landed on Muller’s head perfectly. The young Bayern Munich striker scored his fourth goal of the tournament, giving the game the best possible start.
            Germany were as strong as ever at the back with the terrorising Carlos Tevez and Angel di Maria both being thwarted in decent positions. Their strength going forward was also for all to see with Podolski having a shot from 20 yards deflected wide. Klose was then very near to doubling the German’s lead after Khedira’s cross. The Bayern Munich striker, who was playing his 100th game for his country, then fired the ball over the bar after great work from Muller.
            Argentina, though, began to get back into the game, with Messi gaining more control over the match. A poor free-kick from the Barcelona star eventually found Tevez inside the box, who then proceeded to pass to an unmarked Gonzalo Higuain, who put the ball into the back of the net. Tevez, though, was ruled, correctly, offside when the first ball was played, and so the goal was ruled out.
            Diego Maradona’s side’s first half was summed up with thirty seconds left; Messi sending a shot soaring over the bar after good build-up play. Germany went into the break with a deserved lead. Argentina, though, were up for a fight. Di Maria pounded a shot from 30 yards just wide, with Germany failing to get a hold on the game.
            The South American side continued to push the German ranks, without actual penetration. Germany’s strong resistance, however, paid off with just over twenty minutes to go. After a mistake from Martin Demichelis, Podolski stole in and played in an unmarked Klose, who tapped in to double Germany’s lead. Podolski then had the audacity to try and chip the ‘keeper from 15 yards, but Sergio Romero was more than alert in the Argentina goal.
            The young German side looked confident and strong throughout against an Argentina side who were regarded by many as the favourites going into this World Cup.          It was one of the more experienced players, though, who gave Germany their third goal. Central defender Friedrich bundled home the ball after fantastic work by Schweinsteiger on the left. The winger is surely a contender for player of the tournament. Germany rubbed salt into Argentina’s wounds with a minute to go, with Klose rounding off a fine counter-attack. The resounding victory means that Germany will face either Spain or Paraguay in the semi-finals, with a possible Holland-Germany final.
            The progression of the German side since the last World Cup should be of keen interest to the English Football Association. While the English side has had very few major changes to the team, the German team has been completely revamped, with many youth players, including Muller, Ozil and Khedira, being pushed through to the first team. England certainly need to do this by the time the next World Cup comes around, with players such as Joe Hart, Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell all playing big roles for their respective clubs at present.
            So Germany go through to the semi-finals after impressive wins over England and Argentina. Their simple but effective football seems to make good sides look very poor. Schweinsteiger and Klose add some valuable experience to a side that boats great quality in youth in Ozil and Muller. Judging by this performance, the team of the tournament is sure to include many German names.
Argentina 0 – 4 Germany

                        Muller 3
                        Klose 67, 89
                        Friedrich 74