World Cup 2010: Germany tear down England's defence

World Cup Second Round

Germany 4
  • Klose 20,
  • Podolski 32,
  • Muller 67,
  • Muller 70
England 1
  • Upson 37
Miroslav Klose slots the ball past David James to open the scoring
Miroslav Klose slots the ball past David James to open the scoring Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

England leave the World Cup and should take up immediate residence in a museum of football history. The tactics creaked as painfully as the veterans and Fabio Capello's ponderous 4-4-2 would have made players lumber even if they still had a spring in their step. The manager is renowned, yet his first international post has led to England's heaviest defeat at the World Cup finals.

It is not wholly sure that he will continue in the job. Capello's men have contrived to fail more severely than the line‑up beaten 4-2 by Uruguay in 1954. There are ripostes of a sort to that and England would have pulled level at the Free State Stadium had it not been for hapless officiating. A fixture haunted by history could have done without a ghost goal.

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Neither the Uruguyan referee, Jorge Larrionda, nor his assistant Mauricio Espinosa noticed Frank Lampard's drive in the 39th minute come off the bar and bounce a foot or more over the line. The score should have been tied at 2-2 and the natural German retort that one of Geoff Hurst's goals in the 1966 World Cup was imaginary hardly makes the blunder of officials more palatable in Bloemfontein.

The lasting conclusion is that England were neither as sleek, co-ordinated or quick as their opponents. If the team were to scramble further at the World Cup, they had to see impact from Wayne Rooney. The attacker was yet again out of touch and once more let his frustration lead him into futile positions. There should be recognition that he was almost alone in the party as an embodiment of excellence who can still tell himself that the best days lie ahead. No matter how they rage against injustice, his team-mates should appreciate in some cobwebbed corner of their minds that they were outplayed.

Their greater experience proved a burden. It has to be understood that the leaden-footedness kept England off the pace throughout the tournament. They were obliged to take on Germany because they had come second in their group. Solutions are all but out of reach, too, for a line-up that clumsily pieces together three goals in four matches, with Jermain Defoe the sole striker to hit the net.

England were struck by an injustice but the enduring reflection has to be that the means did not exist to recover from it. While the latest wave of pleas for the introduction of goal-line technology look reasonable, it is not an item for Capello's own agenda. Should he stay in the post, he will have to refresh the line-up for the Euro 2012 qualifiers. He is unlikely to be in charge for the 2014 World Cup.

When there is no one left to listen to grievances over this elimination, people will show more regard for the fluency and deadliness of Germany. Their showing was a triumph for the coach, Joachim Löw, who has pieced together many players of modest experience and swiftly achieved success without sacrificing flair. If Capello can muster the humility, he might care to find out how this is achieved.

The Bundesliga would appear to be a better nursery for budding talent than the Premier League. Capello had spoken in the past about an appearance in the semi‑finals as a realistic objective, yet that turned a blind eye to the inexorable deterioration of senior players. They did not look as if they belonged in such a fixture any longer and Gareth Barry was highly culpable in the third and fourth goals.

The opener was a humiliation as a goal-kick from Manuel Neuer saw Miroslav Klose hold off Matthew Upson with ease before scoring in the 20th minute. Even then England had no means to keep calamity at bay. Germany pounced again on 32 minutes as the devastating Thomas Müller, who eventually took a pair of goals for himself, assembled a one-two with Sami Khedira before sweeping Klose's through ball to the left of the goalmouth, where Lukas Podolski, despite narrowing his angle with a heavy first touch, slotted a shot through David James's legs.

This, for all the excellence, is an emerging Germany side rather than the implacable sort of times gone by and England responded simply. Following a short corner, Lampard clipped a cross that was nodded in by Upson after 37 minutes. A little earlier Defoe had headed against the bar from a Glen Johnson delivery. Although a hapless England were behind at the interval Germany's control had not been absolute. Indeed Capello's side struck the woodwork once more, with a 35-yard free-kick from Lampard seven minutes into the second half. As is so often the case with this England line-up, a lack of rhythm and pattern does not stop them from fashioning moments of threat, whether with a set piece or a quick pass.

There was nothing, all the same, to compare with the technique and calm with which Germany broke to establish a 3-1 advantage in the 68th minute. After Lampard had sent a free-kick into the defensive wall Löw's side raced away, with Müller finding Bastian Schweinsteiger on the left and converting the eventual return ball at the far post. A peerless Müller also took his side's fourth two minutes later, with Mesut Ozil going clear and leaving the Bayern Munich player to attend to the formalities. All England's exertions could do was pile up ever more proof of their inadequacy.


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  • Allgoaliesaremad Allgoaliesaremad

    27 Jun 2010, 5:08PM

    Blaming Capello's system is missing the point, we don't have players as good as other teams. Simple. These big name players, like Terry, Gerrard, Rooney et al simply didn't produce. They should be good enough to adapt to ANY system because that's what they're paid to do. We were outnumbered, couldn't control the ball and didn't play as a team. Germany played as a unit but our ego-maniacs played as individuals...and not even well.

  • WeAreTheWorld WeAreTheWorld

    27 Jun 2010, 5:09PM

    When all is said and done, all the arrogance, all the chest thumping, all the talk of tradition and an exhaustive and pretentious knowledge of soccer, England forgot one thing...

    How to play.

    An absolutely pathetic performance by an overrated, overpaid group of players who are living in the past.

    A new chapter has indeed been written;

    English soccer isn't that great.

  • hexa hexa

    27 Jun 2010, 5:10PM

    Congratulations Germany.

    That was a reality check. England are rubbish, endemically.

    The FA needs to scrap English football, starting with itself, and someone else build from scratch. The talent available is woeful and the footballing skill and intelligence of most players approaching zero. Players like Gerrard and Rooney are aberrations, skilled despite the England football system. The defence is decades behind present-day, absolutely no idea how to mark a mobile attacking team. The midfield lacks any sense of distribution, pace, movement, control, creativity. And the attack was non-existent. And finally, none of the players were remotely upset at the loss – maybe because it was so one-sided and their performance so awful, maybe because they really just don’t care that much. A new EPL and Champions League beckon after a nice two month break and Mourinho to tell them what really matters in world football – as if anyone outside of the CL money bubble actually believes him.

  • jiminicricket jiminicricket

    27 Jun 2010, 5:10PM

    So-called top ten team loses 4-1 in World Cup finals 2nd round!!!

    Heskey on for Defoe does not inspire confidence and Rooney looked tired. I can't help but wonder how Walcott would've done.

    England spent the last 30mins of that match staring at the ball. Pathetic.

  • flibert flibert

    27 Jun 2010, 5:11PM

    I thought it was 50/50 before the game and if the goal had been allowed that would have changed the game but who knows? Can't really complain though. We just weren't very good, overall. Same old same old.

    Did James save anything? I'm not sure.

  • lesoy lesoy

    27 Jun 2010, 5:12PM

    No complaints here, we were completely outclassed.

    Even if the second goal had been given - as it should have been - it probably wouldn't have made any difference. The Germans were lethal.

    That's it for Fabio and it's time for a long, hard look at the future of English football because not for a moment did England look world class at this tournament.

  • largeaction largeaction

    27 Jun 2010, 5:12PM

    Capello can't get off scot free because the players performed badly - HE PICKED THE PLAYERS.
    Could he not foresee the gaping lack of pace at the back and in midfield? Should he not know the damage to the team's shape playing gerrard on the left would cause?

    But for me, the most damning indictment, at 3-1 how can you possible bring heskey on, and even with 5 minutes to go, how can you justify bringing swp on - I'm sorry, there is no excuse for that.

    He left his best keeper on the bench the entire tournament, he left pacey centre backs at home, he took strikers who can't score - blame the players, yes, but don't let the manager off the hook.

  • GrumpyForeigner GrumpyForeigner

    27 Jun 2010, 5:12PM

    Wow, what a game! Of course Lamparts goal should have been given, that much is crystal clear. However, any discussion of what would have happened afterwards is mere speculation. Some will say that this would have changed English morale and had given them a new hope, but I would not have counted the Germans out even then. Especially given that the 2 last German goals were scored when England put on some pressure, and after the continuous attacks the Germans launched against Serbia when down one goal and one man.

    I wasn't able to watch the whole match, but what also struck me was the fact that I did not see any nasty fouls, not even when the English were with their backs to the wall. That is what football should be like: fair, with lots of attacking from both sides, and some beautiful goals.

    So, off I go to the local "Autokorso" (whatever that German term might be in English...). We will see each other in Euro 2012!

  • PaulLambert PaulLambert

    27 Jun 2010, 5:12PM

    It's a pretty embarrassing defeat for anyone involved with English football. I expected them to lose, but thought that it would be tight, like these games usually are. But Germany were just head and shoulders above England in every department. It was men against boys, with the boys as the men, and the men as the boys.

    And there's no point dwelling on 'the goal that wasn't', because Germany likely would have gone on to win anyway.

    Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say it wasn'
    t good enough, and hasn't been right through the tournament.

    And that's maybe it for Gerrard, Terry, Lampard, Carragher, the Coles and Heskey now. Undoubtedly talented footballers who can look back on their club careers with a degree of satisfaction - league wins, European Cup wins, etc - but at internantional level, barring one good qualifying campaign, the so-called Golden Generation rarely rose above the level of Lead.

    But with the likes of Jack Rodwell, Jack Wilshere, Dan Gosling, Josh McEachran and Kieran Gibbs all starting to come through, I still have England down as big favourites for 2014. You just wait. ;-)

  • VcynicAl VcynicAl

    27 Jun 2010, 5:13PM

    Well, that was awesomely predictable.

    Terry, Upson and Johnson in a three way contest for worst defensive performance in the tournament.

    Rooney, Gerrard anonymous.

    Barry showing that he cannot provide any defensive cover.

    Milner willing but limited.....

    As I posted before the match on another thread, based on Englands dimal performances in the three group games, the result of this game was a foregone conclusion.

    And yet still we get people talking aboutg England winning the world cup.

    A truly bizarre exercise in mass delusion.

    Anyone want to apologise to Sven Goran Ericsson? At least his England sides did/played better.

  • theKnowledge theKnowledge

    27 Jun 2010, 5:13PM

    I hope this lesson FINALLY teach some people that England's players are all overrated. None of them are "world class".
    None of them are as great as the media make them out to be.
    Rooney, aaaah, at least he controlled his temper this time!!

  • molefromtheministry molefromtheministry

    27 Jun 2010, 5:14PM

    Highway 66 Revisited was arguably the best thing that could have happened for England. Now, they will be able to shift the focus away from the fact that they were comprehensively outplayed by a superior young German team, to an admittedly absurd refereeing decision.

    I rarely agree with Uncle Sepp, however on the issue of video refereeing I do: so far I haven't heard an argument which convinces me that it's a good idea to give the media even more influence over the way in which the game is played. Even so, there are other solutions, such as smart-ball technology or goal-line referees, and FIFA needs to study these urgently.

  • joanwd joanwd

    27 Jun 2010, 5:14PM

    Fair play to James though, who made some pretty decent saves considering the absence of his defenders for at least the first 2 German goals (I left the room after the second)
    The question is, will the English media ever stop going on and on and on and on about 1966 every time there is a world cup?

  • PatCake PatCake

    27 Jun 2010, 5:14PM

    Nightmare performance by England in pretty much every department. Wayne Rooney was complete and utter shite. Again. Was that the fault of a lack of support from the "loyal" fans he was mouthing off at after the US game or could it be that he's maybe just not as good as some people would have us believe.

  • byjove byjove

    27 Jun 2010, 5:14PM

    England simply do not produce tactically intelligent footballers. Beckenbauer was right, our football is kick and run. He forgot to mention it's that way because that's the way we like it. English spectators wouldn't put up with too much tactical intelligence, even if it did mean doing better at the world cup.
    And let's face it, who cares. In a few weeks the circus will start all over again. Same debates, same hype, same everything....

  • AlbionEikon AlbionEikon

    27 Jun 2010, 5:15PM

    Terrible performance. By FIFA and England, both. England's system was completely wrong. Players were out of position and slow. Totally out classed. Exception was James, however. Germany capitalized and deserved the win.

  • Voltaire21 Voltaire21

    27 Jun 2010, 5:15PM

    Blaming Capello is nonsense, the players have had every management style and have adapted to none...a professional is capable of adapting, they are not professional when playing for England. As for Lampard he is cursed when playing for England, thousands of shots on target and none in...

  • BristolBoy BristolBoy

    27 Jun 2010, 5:16PM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • Banmeifyoucan Banmeifyoucan

    27 Jun 2010, 5:16PM

    On the bright side, all the hand wringing and agonizing by the English press and Guardian sports journalists is at an end. The English team have paid everyone a service and humbly exit the world stage, worse off than the last time they did.

    Serves them right for being arrogant and writing off Germany's chances like they did. The FA will now have to act quickly to right things in order to compete with Germany's youth system. However I doubt they will, since they are too happy with the money grubbing of the Premier League to care.

  • effgee effgee

    27 Jun 2010, 5:16PM

    There'll be no gloating from this Kraut, and I feel terrible for you guys over the disallowed goal that should've counted. But over the course of today's 90 minutes at least, the better team advanced to the quarter finals.

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