About a German side
who could become one of the game's dominant forces. A glimpse of the future.
It might have
knockabout stuff but it was another reminder of the healthy shape of German
football - a sad contrast to the English scenario.
Never mind the
disaster in Bloemfontein, what should be more worrying is that players such as
Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller - who scored the first goal in this enjoyable romp -
and Sami Khedira, who headed the clincher, will form the spine of a team that is
only scratching the surface of its potential.
unselfish, respectful players who provide a grim contrast to the talent in
Germany will take no
particular pride in being ranked third at this World Cup - but they will take
huge encouragement from the performances of this knot of young players.
Again, they were the
inspiration for victory.
After Edison Cavani
had cancelled out Muller's opener and Diego Forlan's volley had been negated by
Marcell Jansen, it was 23-year-old Khedira who clinched that bronze medal.
For their overall
contribution to this tournament, they deserved some recognition.
entertaining contest justified the inclusion of this game in the schedule.
They call this the
match that no-one wants. But as a curtain-raiser to the World Cup Final, it has
And another chance
to see this vibrant German side is not to be sniffed at.
They have been a
credit to this tournament - no traces of arrogance in crushing victory, plenty
of grace in demoralising defeat.
Uruguay, through the
manner of their triumph over Ghana, have not quite captured the imagination in
the same way.
But for such a small
country, their achievement at this tournament should not be underestimated.
And in Forlan, they
boast a player with serious claims to being one of the outstanding performers of
the World Cup.
Rumours out here
suggest Sir Alex Ferguson has even been considering an attempt to bring Forlan
back to Manchester.
Unlikely. But one
thing is for sure ¿ Forlan is the fulcrum of this Uruguayan side. Their
And he was always
going to be one of their main hopes against a German team that can look forward
to the next handful of major tournaments with serious optimism.
At 31, Arne
Friedrich might not be a key figure in that future. But he has been one of the
most accomplished defenders at South Africa 2010.
And he has developed
a knack of finding space in opposition territory, nodding against the crossbar
before the ubiquitous Sepp Blatter had settled into his VVIP seat.
It was a signal of
This was no
exhibition game. Ask Diego Perez, whose ankle felt every stud belonging to
Dennis Aogo. The German was fortunate to remain on the field.
But that exemplified
Germany's commitment to the contest.
This is a long-term
project with players such as Ozil and Khedira at the heart of the scheme.
And Muller will be
There has not been a
more impressive young player at this tournament. Eloquent off the pitch,
eloquent on it.
His approach to the
game is calm, measured and intelligent. And his intelligence gave him his fifth
goal of the World Cup.
As soon as Sebastian
Schweinsteiger began to measure up a crack from long distance, Muller was on the
So when Fernando
Muslera - one of goalkeeping's lesser lights at this World Cup - spat out
Schweinsteiger's effort, Muller was in splendid isolation and calmly stroked in
the opening goal.
Any thoughts, though,
that Uruguay might throw in the towel were totally misguided. This is a fiercely
proud, fiercely determined squad.
Which is why Perez
hounded Schweinsteiger into a midfield mistake, allowing Luis Suarez to thread a
chance for Edison Cavani, who finished with no little aplomb.
controversy surrounding his handball against Ghana, Suarez has also established
himself as a genuine star of world football.
That is why it was a
surprise when he hooked a sitter wide in the closing stages of the first half.
surprising was when he allowed reserve keeper Hans-Jorg Butt to recover and
block just after the restart.
Butt could do little
about the Uruguayan second - founded on the work-rate of Egidio Arevalo and
completed by the acrobatic volley of Forlan.
increasingly impressive but in Muslera, they have a goalkeeping liability.
should have taken the gloves.)
And sure enough, one
ill-judged venture from his line - trying to intercept a Jerome Boateng cross -
proved costly, Jansen heading into the vacated net.
The goal was typical
of the game - entertaining but slapdash, everything you would expect a third
place play-off to be.
And both Suarez -
relentlessly jeered by the crowd - and Forlan wasted good chances to restore
They were made to
regret it. A scramble from a corner - with Muslera predictably uncertain - ended
with the ball looping up invitingly for Khedira (who might not have been here
had it not been for the injury to Michael Ballack) and he steered his header
Maybe not for their
performance on the night but for their attitude and displays during this whole
tournament, it was a just reward.
You couldn't help
but feel for Forlan who struck the crossbar with the last kick of the game and
in what might well be his last World Cup.
For Ozil, Muller and
Khedira and company, this is just the start.
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