It takes more than god, cocaine, and undetected handballs to win a World Cup, at least in 2010. The young, ruthlessly efficient German team delivered a wholesale beatdown to Diego Maradona’s Argentina, and exposed the self-besotted leprechaun as a complete clown. It may be true that Maradona practically won the 1986 World Cup singlehandedly, as a manager it has been conclusively proven he’s strictly Sunday-side level.
Maradona was coasting on the ability of his front line, while praying that his star player, Lionel Messi, would finally wake up and have a dominant World Cup match. But the signs were there, even in qualifying, that Maradona’s chosen team was lacking in steel where it mattered. He left the impeccable Cambiosso and Zanetti out of the side and brought the gibbering idiot Javier Mascherano in their stead, electing to have only one player hold and anchor the midfield. Germany’s 4 goals today proved how great a strategy this turned out to be. In fact, Mascherano spent the majority of the match running around snapping at ankles, his lips peeled back to expose every tooth like an enraged chimpanzee, and was again fortunate to not pick up a spate of yellow cards for his “robust” challenges.
It’s hard to muster much, if any, sympathy for Maradona or his side. A few weeks ago, it was Maradona who peevishly insulted the game’s greatest legend, Pele. Pele! Second, Maradona said that god himself wanted Argentina to win this World Cup, and they would not need a “hand of God” goal, referencing his own infamous handball that won Argentina the World Cup. Evidently Maradona did not see what claiming god for their own did to the Algeria, Brazil, and Ghana sides. Maradona had no mention of the mounds of cocaine he later admitted using in the 86 World Cup, and whether or not his young charges would do well to hoover up some inspiration in likewise fashion. Next, Maradona sulked at a press conference because he was asked to share the stage with Germany’s Thomas Müller, and called the 20 year old striker “a ball boy.” So when Müller scored Germany’s first goal in the 3rd minute, it was a perfect riposte.
At the break, the Argentina was only down 1-0, and maybe Germany was feeling a little apprehensive, knowing a pep-talked Messi, Tevez, Higuain, and DiMaria were probably raring to have at them. If there were German nerves, they disappeared rather quickly, as Carlos Tevez again did his best to portray a headless chicken in a blue and white football top. No one can fault Tevez’s industry, but if only the footballing gods had thought to give Tevez even the slightest amount of brain, then he’d really be a threat. Tevez wasn’t the only one to fail to bring to life World Footballer of the Year Leonel Messi, who was playing close to the strikers hoping for some linkup play. Messi was starved of the ball, and when any of his forwards got into the final third, they were more wont to have a 30 yard crack at goal instead of looking for a good through-ball to set up a teammate.
Germany, by contrast, were a team, and attacked and defended as a unit, in a reminder of what the Dutch termed Total Football. The real story was of the midfield masterclass taught by Bastian Schweinsteiger. He and Sami Khedira were always showing for the ball, always moving into space, taking the pressure off the flanks, and always looking to change the point of attack around the hapless Argentinians. Miroslav Klose, Mesut Özil, and Thomas Müller exposed the Argentine defense as undisciplined, flatfooted, and slow, time and time again. So keen were the Germans to look to play in a teammate, that Klose’s second goal was literally walked into the net with no Argentine within two yards of him. Lukas Podolski calmly dwelt on the ball in the penalty area, after driving to the by-line, and fed Klose a pinpoint accurate pass for Germany’s 2nd.
Argentina switched tactics at this point, and decided to spend most of their energy whingeing at the refs on obvious offside calls, holding their hands up begging for yellow cards to be issued on tackles where they weren’t even fouled, and in general behaving like a bunch of spoilt and indulged prima donnas. Meanwhile, Germany were loving every minute. For a few minutes it looked like Gabby Heinze or Javier Mascherano might snap someone’s leg, in an effort to drag Argentina back into the game, and Germany dropped off to defend and play counter-attacking football. This storm lasted maybe 10 minutes, and then the Germans decided it was time to finish off the Gaucho poseurs.
Maradona basically threw all his cards in the air at this point, and sacrificed a defender for an attacking substitution, giving Argentina now 4 out and out goal scorers. The German coach, Joachim Löw, must have thought it was his birthday, after his side has beaten the Argentines on the outside all afternoon, suddenly now his opponents switched to a 3 man back line, giving even more joy to the marauding work of Schweinsteiger. Germany added a 3rd goal from Schweinsteiger dribbling through five players and setting up Friedrich for a smooth finish. At seeing themselves losing 3-0, the Argentines were boiling over and a few tackles threatened to qualify as actual physical assault. No matter, the Germans calmly put the South Americans to the sword with a 4th goal, Podolski crossing for Klose to volley into the goal.
The 4-0 scoreline was hardly flattering to the Germans, who outclassed the Argentinians in every department. Messi joined the ranks of Rooney, Ronaldo, Drogba, Kaka, Cannavaro, Torres, and Robinho as big name flops at this World Cup. Now Argentina’s dream is in tatters, and maybe with the dawn they will realize that a solo performer like Maradona is not the talent needed to coach an actual team. For that, get a notepad and take notes on Joachim Löw. Germany will now face Spain on July 7th, and based on both sides’ recent performances, Germany looks unstoppable.