World Cup post-game: Germany 4, Argentina 0
Using equal parts attacking and defending, Germany posted a dominant 4-0 victory over Argentina in their FIFA World Cup quarter-final Saturday at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.
Germany advances to its third straight tournament semifinal having finished third in 2006 and runner-up in 2002.
It was certainly not the score line that soccer aficionados would have expected between these storied rivals.
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When these two sides met four years ago in the same scenario in Germany, the game was hotly contested and went to penalty kicks with the host nation coming out on top.
The Germans would again reign over Argentina on Saturday, but this time in a much more convincing fashion.
Using its youthful roster, powerful midfield and solid back four, the German side put forth a complete team effort for 90 minutes, living up to their moniker of Die Mannschaft (The Team).
For Diego Maradona's La Albiceleste, the result was an absolute embarrassment. Questions will be raised about the former Argentine star and first-time manager's attack-first tactics, which helped the team get this far in the tournament, but ultimately exposed their defensive weakness against a more well-balanced side like Germany.
Before the tournament began, German media were critical of the team's chances, feeling that it lacked veteran depth and leadership in the absence of injured former captain Michael Ballack.
Team manager Joachim Loew was confident, however, putting his faith in new captain, 26-year-old defender Philipp Lahm, and 25-year-old holding midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger as well as a generation of exciting young players like Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.
All of those players oozed class and confidence against Argentina, easily picking apart their defence and finding gaping passing lanes on the counterattack.
Defensively, Germany contained the dangerous attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez, allowing only off-balanced shots or strikes from distance.
Messi, the reigning world footballer of the year, leaves the tournament without a goal and without the opportunity to chase after a world title like the man to whom he's often compared, Maradona.
What this result means
Germany advances to the semifinals where it will meet the winner of the quarter-final match between Spain and Paraguay.
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The turning point
Miroslav Klose's first of two goals put the game out of reach for Argentina. His easy tap-in marker in the 68th minute made it 2-0 for Germany and sank the spirits of Maradona and La Albiceleste.
Klose now has 14 goals in his World Cup career, which ties him on the all-time goals list with fellow German Gerd Mueller. He's now one shy of the all-time record holder Ronaldo of Brazil, who scored 15.
The winning goal
Thomas Mueller, 20, scored his fourth goal of the tournament just three minutes into this game, flicking in a Schweinsteiger free kick with his head past Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Mueller, one of the breakout stars of this World Cup, will miss Tuesday's semifinal because of yellow card accumulation.
Man of the match
Schweinsteiger, Germany's workhorse pilot in the midfield, was all over the pitch in Saturday's game. Whether he was shadowing Messi defensively, or setting up chances for a teammate in the attacking third, "Schweini" was the difference maker in this match. He set up Mueller's opening goal with a bending free kick as well as Arne Friedrich's first-ever international goal by dribbling through a slew of Argentine defenders and slipping the ball back to the veteran fullback.
The German perspective
"It was absolute class." — manager Joachim Loew.
The Argentine perspective
"To lose like that is very painful. We played badly and sometimes when you make mistakes you go home." — striker Carlos Tevez.