Germany, Argentina go to the Cup quarterfinals
The host Germany bested Sweden 2-0 on a pair of goals by Lukas Podolski. Fellow forward Miroslav Klose had a hand in both; the first one came from a rebound off a Klose shot, and the second was set up by Klose, who drew three defenders his way and found a charging and unmarked Podolski just inside the box.
Germany has scored first in all four games it has played so far.
With three goals in four matches, Podolski now sits just one behind Klose in the race for the Golden Shoe, awarded to the top scorer in the World Cup.
Who would have thought that two strikers from Germany, traditionally known for its defensive approach to the game, would be leading the goal-scoring table?
By connecting so well for the two goals, Podolski and Klose, both natives of Poland, seem to have scotched rumors of a rift between them, at least for now.
Just before the World Cup, German media outlets quoted Klose as being critical of Podolski after the latter’s lethargic performances.
But Klose has called the reports “rubbish,” and when asked about the state of his partnership with Klose, Podolski told reporters yesterday, “You saw it today.”
As long as the two keep up their pursuit of the Golden Shoe, they could bring Germany another, more coveted piece of gold, the FIFA World Cup Trophy. And coach Jurgen Klinsmann, for one, is sounding bullish.
“I think we can be more than satisfied and we can be proud of this German team,” said Klinsmann on ESPN.com.
“Each individual player who is on the pitch and the extraordinary support from everyone means it was a lot of fun watching this team play, especially in the first half-hour.”
In the day’s second match, Argentina survived a tough encounter with Mexico to win 2-1 on a goal by Maxi Rodriguez in the first half of the 30-minute overtime. The goal, a ferocious volley from Rodriguez after he controlled the ball on his chest, will be a staple of highlight montages for years to come, but it didn’t end the match.
In 2004, FIFA abolished the golden goal and the silver goal rules in the World Cup. With the golden goal, the game would have ended the instant Rodriguez scored. If the silver goal were still in place, Argentina wouldn’t have had to play another 15 minutes of the extra period.
The golden goal rule was introduced to stimulate attacking play, but it was widely thought to have backfired as more teams decided to play defensively to safeguard against a loss.
In any case, the defeat was crushing for Mexico, which, after a lackluster first round, finally hit their form and pushed the Argentineans to the limit.
Argentina’s star forward Hernan Crespo praised Mexicans’ efforts afterward.
“Mexico made life hard for us on a tactical level, and prevented us from executing our game plan,” he said on FIFA’s World Cup Web site. “They made us play a very open game, and that made it difficult for us to gain control.”
But Crespo’s praise was little consolation to fans in soccer-mad Mexico. Reuters reported that thousands of fans in Mexico City were in tears after the match, and the local police unclipped handguns to control angry Mexican fans who chased down Argentineans celebrating their team’s victory, though no shots were fired.
Argentinean fans across the world hope to have more to celebrate. Their team will face Germany in a game that begins midnight Friday Korean time in Berlin.
The last World Cup meeting between the two soccer giants came in the championship match at the Italy World Cup in 1990. Germany came out on top 1-0.
by Yoo Jee-ho