Armchair Pundit

Anyone for ruthless efficiency?

Alex Chick

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The Germans
are looking confident, ominous and dangerous, which means one thing - it feels
like a World Cup at last.

It was all
starting to go badly wrong after an enjoyable opening game. The first seven
games produced just nine goals, a pathetic rate of 1.27 per game with no match
yielding more than two.

From those
games, the only goals that could really be described as good were Siphiwe Tshabalala's
for South Africa and Steven Gerrard's for England.

In fact,
two third of the nine involved some sort of howler - goalkeeping errors by
Robert Green and Faouzi Chaouchi for the USA and Slovenia goals, non-existent
marking to help Argentina and Korea (first goal), and rank idiocy by Loukas
Vintra and Zdravko Kuzmanovic
to gift Korea (second goal) and Ghana their strikes.

Then the
Germans pitched up in Durban and tore Australia apart with trademark
ruthlessness plus impressive flair.

In fact it
was a gala evening for fans of German stereotypes.

There was
Jogi Loew and his coaching staff, all sporting blazers and blue t-shirts like
braying ad executives at a West End win bar. Uber-trendy.

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Germany's Cacau celebrates scoring a goal against Australia during a 2010 World Cup Group D soccer match at Moses Mabhida stadium
Then the
kick-off was delayed when the referee asked Germany keeper Manuel Neuer to
remove his towel from the goal area.

And within
minutes of the start, wunderkind Mesut Ozil had been booked for a dive of which
Juergen Klinsmann himself would have approved.

Then Lukas
Podolski - voted the Bundesliga's flop of the season by his fellow
professionals blasted the opener, quickly analysing the situation and
calculating the most efficient way to goal was through Mark Schwarzer's hand.
Ein Hammer-Tor

"The German
gene kicks in!" yelled ITV's Peter Drury, seeming to suggest that the
Gliwice-born Podolski somehow reverts to being Polish whenever he turns out for

Klose spent an unhappy season with Bayern Munich largely on the bench, but
inevitably popped up for his 11th World Cup goal, moving him equal fifth on the
all-time list, one behind Pele.

Goals from
Thomas Muller and Cacau completed the 4-0 rout, but the star of the show was
Mesut Ozil, who won't be a Werder Bremen player for much longer if he plays
like that for the rest of the tournament.

The result
also emphasised just how potentially catastrophic was England's failure to beat
the United States. Unless we win the group (which could require a cricket score
against Algeria) we play the Germans in the last 16. And we go home.

- - -

Vuvuzela-watch: Those noisy plastic trumpets are really starting to get on some
people's wicks.

Here is
Serbia striker Marko Pantelic, who had the temerity to blame them for his
side's defeat against Ghana.

"Because of the vuvuzelas we couldn't
hear the Serbian fans," Pantelic told reporters. "Our
fans were cheering but the only noise was the vuvuzelas."

"We couldn't hear our fans because other fans were louder." The cheek.

So much
complaint has there been that organisers have not ruled out banning the things
on the somewhat flimsy grounds of safety.

committee chief executive Danny Jordaan said: "We did say that if
any land on the pitch in anger we will take action. We've tried to get some
order. We have asked for no vuvuzelas during national anthems or stadium
announcements. It's difficult but we're trying to manage the best we can."

theorists have even suggest that, in light of Jordaan's words, FIFA blazers
might be sneaking, incognito, into matches and lobbing the wretched things on
to the pitch.

I might be
in a minority, but I'll be gutted if vuvuzelas are banned. But only because I
have a week-old son who seems to love the white noise. Either that or he's
Jonathan Pearce's youngest, biggest fan.

- - -

Robert Green suffered the indignity of selection for a 'random' drug test after
Saturday's draw against the USA.

Presumably tournament officials surmised that you'd have to be on something
fairly potent to commit such an atrocious error?

- - -

'I can't believe you get paid to write this' corner: Yes, I did put that David
James got lobbed by Ronaldinho in 2002. It was of course David Seaman. I did
know that really, of course - not even Jamo would try to pull off that

And a
pre-emptive one: I'll hold my hands up - this is the blog that three days ago
said the Germans weren't very good. Yeah, about that...

- - -

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