Germany cruised to a comprehensive 4-0 victory against Australia in Durban tonight, announcing their credentials as potential winners. Insult was added to injury for Australia with the dismissal of talisman Tim Cahill for an innocuous tackle early in the second half.
An experienced Socceroos team were fancied by some to trouble the Group D favourites, but found themselves blown away by a dynamic German performance.
Recently appointed captain Phillip Lahm revelled in his newfound responsibility, marauding up and down the flank and barking instructions to teammates.
Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose repaid the faith shown in them by Joachim Löw after poor seasons at the club level. Podolski opened the scoring before Klose added to his impressive haul of World Cup goals with a trademark header.
Thomas Müller made his mark on the score sheet in only his third game for the national team and Brazilian-born Stuttgart striker Cacau followed, coming off the bench to complete the scoring. Arsenal target Mesut Özil stole the show, orchestrating the play and running rings around Australia’s aging team.
The Socceroos began with Cahill alone up front and Jason Culina in an unfamiliar advanced role. Culina soon reverted to defensive midfield in an attempt to stem the German tide, but to no avail. Vince Grella proved unable to cope with the movement and interplay of Özil, Podolski and Müller, and was replaced at half time by Brett Holman with the damage already done.
Fears over the ability of Lucas Neil and Craig Moore to cope with pace were confirmed as Australia’s high defensive line proved suicidal.
The sight of the Socceroos back four repeatedly appealing in desperation for offsides will haunt Pim Verbeek and fans alike. Cahill’s sending off was harsh and Australia will struggle to salvage their tournament against Ghana with the Everton man suspended.