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World Cup – Eliminations, Day 2

This was a day full of controversy!

Germany 4 – England 1

This was a spectacular game, marred by a true controversy!

Germany’s first goal was pretty, but simply horrible defending. A German goal kick straight down the middle was allowed to bounce, and German striker Miroslav Klose beat both English central defenders and goalie David James to the second bounce and tapped it past James. The second was also nice .. Germany got the ball on the right elbow and crossed it to a completely Lukas Podolski, who was totally unmarked.  Podolski calmly nutmegged James.  England pulled one back .. defender Matthew Upson headed in a very nice Steven Gerrard free kick.

Then the craziness.  Less than 2 minutes after the goal, England is attacking, and a wonderfully English bull rush down the middle.  Frank Lampard lets loose a cannonball from the top of the area dead center.  It hits the top of the crossbar bounces down and hits the turf 2 feet behind the line.  But the spin brings the ball back up to the crossbar, and then down onto the line, where German keeper Manuel Neuer grabs it.  Somehow, neither the referee (Uruguayan Jorge Larrionda) nor his assistant saw the bounce on the turf, and no goal was awarded.

Germany got two (very pretty) goals in the second half from Thomas Muller on counter attacks, when the English defenders were committed on offense and did not have the speed to get back.

Clearly, the best team prevailed.  But England has to wonder what might have been, because the disallowed goal really did change the tenor of the game. The second half would have been dramatically different had the teams been level at halftime, and the last two German goals were counters that took advantage of England pressing 9 or 10 men forward because they were behind. England saw a lot of the ball, and was aggressive the whole game, but did not generate the same kind of chances as Germany. In fact, the German speed advantage was decisive. Had the score been 2-2 at halftime England would have pressed for a winner and the outcome would have been the same.

Argentina 2 – Mexico 1

This game was also defined by controversy; Argentina’s first goal on 26′ should have been disallowed and wasn’t. Argentine beat the Mexican offside trap beautifully .. Lionel Messi sprung Carlos Tevez on goal. Mexican goalie Oscar Perez read the play well and snuffed out the attack at the penalty spot, but the ball fell to Messi at the edge of the box.  Now comes the trouble.  Messi tapped the ball directly forward to Tevez, who was clearly in offside position, 2 yards behind EVERY Mexican defender including the goalie. It was not close. But the flag stayed down, Tevez scored the easiest goal of his career, and all hell breaks loose.

The reality is that the referee error did not cost Mexico the game. Their meltdown after the error is what cost them the game. They lost focus.  Plain and simple.  Had they kept on their game and lost 1-0 or 2-1, perhaps a case could be made for the referee error being decisive.  But not in this game.

The second Argentina goal was a gift .. on 33′, just a couple of minutes after the offside debacle, Mexican defender Ricardo Osorio passed the ball square at the top of the box to Argentine Gonzalo Higuain, who dribbled it around Perez and into the goal.

Argentina’s third shortly after halftime was a thing of beauty.  After some typical Argentine nifty passing, Tevez got the ball a few yards above the box on the left.  He made a couple of feints, popped the ball right, and from a yard above the penalty circle sent a strike curling into the top right corner of the goal.  Perez was helpless.  The game was over at that pint, although Javier Hernandez pulled one back for Mexico in the 71st minute.

Argentina and Germany play on Saturday (3-July) for a spot in the semi-finals.  This should be a fascinating game, as Argentina’s aggressiveness and willingness to lose defensive shape to press that attack leave them open to the lethal German counter-attack.

Referee note:

Usually stellar Italian referee Roberto Rosetti was apparently very upset at halftime with the assistant for missing the Tevez offside.  But he was also in terrible position.  The play was stalled at the edge of the box, yet Rosetti is nowhere to be seen until he trots into the picture well after the ball is in the net. The offside was so obvious that had Rosetti been in proper position he would have seen it without the help of the assistant.   IMHO both of them were ball-watching instead of focusing on their job.

Note:  for anyone who isn’t convinced about the Tevez offside … how the AR missed it is a mystery to me, although the referee is nowhere to be found either.

Picture clearly showing Tevez offside at the moment of Messi's pass.

Any argument that Tevez is offside?

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