The First Candidate Is…Germany!

Three days, three days of cautious football. Sunday night. BANG! The difference between the men and the boys. Ladies and Gentlemen. Germany has arrived in South Africa and on Sunday night we saw that well-oiled engine purring once again.

Slovenia 1 Algeria 0: The Irresponsibility of Ghezzane

Algeria lost this game but revealed an excellent group of players who fought a balanced battle with Slovenia, the deadlock being broken by the sending-off of Ghezzal after two acts of irresponsibility saw him receive two entirely avoidable yellow cards. However, do not count Saadane’s men out.

Algeria started off aggressively, gaining a free kick outside the area, delivered by Belhadj, who forced a great save out of Slovenia keeper Handanovic. The game followed the norm for the opening matches in the final stage of a World Cup, both teams being more careful than adventurous, playing as a block and not taking any risks.

Slovenia Captain Koren (FIFA man of the match) saw his dangerous shot blocked on 15’ and on 22’, Algeria keeper Chaochi had to come swiftly off his line to turn Kirm’s free kick behind.

Algeria started to press forward more after the half-hour and the free-kick resulting from Radosavljevic’s foul on Belhadj, after 35’, resulted in a goal-mouth scramble. Algeria’s second corner was cleared, but Algeria kept up the pressure and on 37’, Halliche almost broke the deadlock after setting himself up in a good position in front of goal. Two minutes later, Halliche headed just over, in a great period for Algeria.

On, 39’ another incursion by the excellent Belhadj down the left found Matmour just outside the area but his shot went over. Slovenia, trying to 41 counter the trend, started to build attacks and although a corner on 41’ resulted in nothing, on 42’, Chaochi had to pull off a spectacular save to deny Birsa, who sent a rocket on target from 20 metres. The first half ended with Slovenia piling on the pressure after a balanced 45 minutes of soccer.

The second half saw Matjaz Kek’s side keeping up the pressure: Novakovic was caught offside after 48’ but Algeria came back. On 50’ Djebbour lost control of the ball in front of the goalmouth and on 51’ Ziani tried his luck with a long shot. Kek substituted Dedic, bringing on Ljubijankic on 53’, Algeria replying with a Belhadj free kick which obliged Handanovic to pull off the best save of the afternoon.

Rabah Saadane substituted Djebbour by Ghezzal, who had not been on the pitch for a minute before he was booked for shirt-pulling but on 70’, he flashed his header just over from 7 metres. On 72’ he received his second yellow for handling the ball, and was sent off.

Koren broke the deadlock on 79’, converting a pass from the left and sending a shot which bounced in front of Chaochi. 1-0 for Slovenia.

Saadane reacted by sending on Saifi for Matmour, then Guedioura for Kadir and 10-man Algeria tried to keep up the momentum. Kek took off Birsa, sending on Pecnik, then Komac for Radosavljevic, maintaining the status quo, and the scoreline.


Algeria: Chaochi, Bougherra, Belhadj, Yahia, Halliche, Lacen, Djebbour (Ghezzal), Matmour (Saifi), Ziani, Yebda, Kadir (Guedioura)

Slovenia: Handanovic, Breko, Suler, César, Koren, Birsa (Pecnik), Novakovic, Jokic, Dedic (Ljubijankic), Kirm, Radosavljevic (Komac)

Serbia 0 Ghana 1

A penalty created a breakthrough for Ghana in a balanced match between two well-organized teams.

From the opening minute both teams adopted a well-organised and aggressive game-plan, which saw a first half of end-to-end football punctuated by half chances for the two Serbian coaches’ sides: Radomir Antic’s Serbia and Milovan Rajevac’s Ghana.

After the break, Ghana had the best chance of the game on 54’, A. Ayew heading just wide after beating Vidic. A minute later the same player send a shot over. Serbia grew again, Zigic just failing to control his header in front of goal on 58’. 59’, A. Gyan (FIFA Man of the Match) headed against the post.

Antic tried to give Serbia more consistency, taking off Milijas and sending on Kuzmanovic after 62’ then on 70’, Lazovic for Zigic. Rajevac replied for Ghana, sending on Appiah for Asamoah. Lukovic received his second yellow, sent off on 74 for arm-pulling.

Antic used his last card, Jovanovic replaced by Subotic. Serbia grew. On 79’, a brilliant defence by Kinson, denying Krasic. Seconds later, Vidic headed just over. Ghana came back.

84’ Kuzmanovic committed handball in the area, was booked and a penalty was awarded to Ghana. A. Gyan smashed it into the back of the net. 1-0 (85’). 90’, the same player sent the ball against the post. If anyone deserved to win this well-balanced game, it was Ghana, for the opportunities created and converted.


Serbia: Stojkovic, Kolarov, Vidic, Ivanovic, Pantelic, Stankovic, Milijas (Kuzmanovic), Lukovic, Jovanovic (Subotic), Zigic (Lazovic), Krasic

Ghana: Kinson, Sarpei, A. Gyan (Owusu Abeyie), Pantsil, Mensah, Annan, Tagoe, A. Ayew, Vorsah, A. Asamoah (Appiah), Prince (Addy)

Germany 4 Australia 0

What a great game of football! Both teams got off to a frantic start with chances falling at both ends. Before the 5-minutemark, Australia had had a corner, a shot at goal and had been denied a goal by a Neuer moment of magic. Germany replied, in lethal fashion.

Miroslav Klose went close, then gained a corner and a minute later, Muller set up Podolski (FIFA man of the match) for a fantastic shot from the edge of the area, screaming past Australian keeper Schwarzer into the back of the net. 1-0 on 8’ to Germany.

Australia did not create a moment of real danger until 20’, when Emerton ran down the right and crossed to Culina, who headed over. Klose could have done better in front of goal on 24’ but two minutes later, scored Germany’s second, heading home from the right of the area. For the rest of the first half, Germany managed the result.

The Socceroos came out of the tunnel more determined and after two corners, had a penalty claim turned down, then on 52’ Holman shot just wide. However Germany came back, Muller firing two shots at goal on 54’. On 56’ Australia’s Cahill was the first player in the tournament to receive a direct red card for a horrendous tackle on Schweinsteiger.

That was the end for Australia. On 61’, Ozil and Klose tested Schwarzer, on 62’ it was Podolski and the 3-0 came after 68’: Muller. Cacau entered, substituting Klose and two minutes later, scored Germany’s fourth. 4-0, 70’. End of game.


Germany: Neuer, Friedrich, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil (Gomez), Podolski (Marin), Klose (Cacau), Muller, Badstuber, Lahm, Mertesacker

Australia: Schwarzer, Neill, Moore, Cahill, Culina, Emerton (Jedinak), Wilkshire, Chipperfield, Grella (Holman), Valeri, Garcia (Rukavytsia)



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey