Doubt crept into the minds of German soccer fans heading into the World Cup. Germany had the odds stacked against them.
There were all of the injuries, including one to captain Michael Ballack, on-top of an already supposedly thin German lineup. There was the large number of young and inexperienced players with high expectations put on them. There was the tough group draw, having to go up against Australia, Serbia, and Ghana.
However, after their 4-0 takedown of Australia in their first match of the tournament, Germany showed that they are still a world-class squad.
Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose were both coming off of rough club seasons but a return to the World Cup, where the two traditionally shine, brought out the best of them, and in turn, the team. Podolski blasted a shot past Socceroos’ goalkeeper Max Schwarzer in the eighth minute and Klose scored another header goal—his 49th in a Germany uniform—off a Philipp Lahm cross in the 26th minute.
Australia’s star midfielder Tim Cahill was sent off in the 56th putting the team down to 10 men and Germany took advantage of having an extra man. Thomas Muller and substitute Cacau scored three minutes apart in the second half to make the game not only a German victory, but a statement to the rest of the opposition that they are a force with which to be reckoned.
The youth movement looked impressive.
Muller (20), Mesut Ozil (21), Sami Khedira (23), Holger Badstuber (21), and Manuel Neuer (24)—all under 25-years-old and made their National Team debuts no earlier than February 2009—all started and were big contributors.
Neuer recorded the clean sheet in goal and Badstuber was part of the defensive line that helped him earn the shutout. Khedira was effective in midfield. Muller got the goal, but did a great job getting up and down the flanks, giving the Aussies’ fullbacks fits.
The most impressive was Ozil. He was extremely active in front of the goal and made a number of dangerous runs. He wasn’t able to put the ball in the back of the net, but he was a major threat and made Australia put a lot of focus on him, opening things up for teammates.
Another reason Die Mannschaft looked so good was because of their surprising cohesion and team chemistry. The squad put on a passing clinic, sending the ball crisply inside and outside, putting perfect crosses into the box and in front of the goal. There were great one-two passes and just simply some beautiful ball movement.
All players were on the same page and gelled nicely. They looked like a team firing on all cylinders.
It’s only one game, and there are still two difficult matchups against Serbia and Ghana to come before even thinking about the tough competition in the knockout stage, but Germany looked like the most dangerous team thus far in the tournament.