Hi there! 95ºF or so, here at my liveblogging workstation, but I’m going to get back on the e-journalistic horse here and try to provide some live-ish meditations on this Group C qualification-decider!
The teams have been dutifully snatched from online!
Ghana: 22-Richard Kingson; 4-John Pantsil, 8-Jonathan Mensah, 5-John Mensah, 2-Hans Sarpei; 6-Anthony Annan, 23-Kevin-Prince Boateng, 13-Dede Ayew, 12-Prince Tagoe; 21-Kwadwo Asamoah, 3-Asamoah Gyan
Germany: 1-Manuel Neuer; 16-Philipp Lahm, 3-Arne Friedrich, 17-Per Mertesacker, 20-Jerome Boateng, 13-Thomas Mueller, 6-Sami Khedira, 7-Bastian Schweinsteiger, 10-Lukas Podolski, 8-Mesut Ozil, 19-Cacau
No real news to report, except that Stuttgart forward Cacau steps in to replace Miroslav Klose, suspended cos o’ that red card against Serbia.
RECAPPIN’: Germany qualify if they win; The Black Stars of Ghana qualify if THEY win. If this is a draw, Germany would only qualify if Serbia draw or lose (providing Australia don’t win by ~7 goals, then the Socceroos would go through!). GOT IT?
IMPORANT NOTE: Ghana are the last hope for an African squad advancing to the round of 16. They’re also, in my opinion and that of those more-learned, the most mature and composed African team at the moment (despite brimming with youth-not-experience).
If going to meditate for 5 minutes and try to channel the energy to liveblog-it-to-ya, patient readers! Let the anthems sound/resound!
BALL IS ROLLINGGGGGG!: The Black Stars are in white and Germany are decked in ominous black kits, shorts, and socks. Ghana open up with some frantic 3-man weaving in attack…GHANA!GHANA!GHANA!
3 min: Brasil-born Cacau makes a good-lookin’ run down the right and pops a low shot from 20 years out…Kingson gets down and nabs it responsibly. Perhaps an early strategy is to put some shots on goal to warm up the possibly error-prone Kingson after his unfortunate bobble against the Aussies.
6 min: Asamoah Gyan gets his first touch as a short ball finds him on sides…the ball runs away from him after his first touch and it’s gobbled up by Deutschekeeper Neuer.
12 min: It’s raining here at my “blogspot”, I’m shirtless, and I have several fans blowing on me. Ghana look organized and well-composed so far, though the Germans have had most of the ball.
13 min: Ghana has an incisive run down the left, and an inviting dragback was cut out just at the right minute by an unnamed German centerback.
15 min: Müller loops in a really inviting cross from about 30 yards out, which Podolski winds up to volley, but it bobbles off his shin.
16 min: Another quick n’ dangerous counterattack down the left by the Ghanains—it’s Asamoah Gyan who is dropping off the left, then making those runs.
18 min: Back during the Nations Cup in January, I lauded the reliability of A.
Gyan’s hair, with his modest-but-fresh natural; I hadn’t noticed before this game that he’s tuned it up into a tasteful Juice-era box cut for the WC.
20 min: Lahm breaks quickly and is all of a sudden in the Ghana box. There’s a bit of anxiety brewing back there, though wiseman Mensah The Elder has intervened to snuff out several dangerous situations already.
23 min: Gyan blows a golden set-up in the German box with another clumsy failure to control the ball. Germany break almost immediately and Kingson has to come off his line, making an excellent save!
25 min: There’s a Ghana corner and it loooooks like Lahm , covering the line, might have blocked a goalbound header with his left arm? Dunno, but IT’S ALL HAPPENIN’ HERE.
28 min: Some seriously silky triangular passing up front for Ghana…mostly created by Ayew, A. Annan, et al.! END-TO-END STUFF as they say…gonna concentrate my eyes a bit harder!
33 min: I’ve gotten a couple of closer looks, and it seems Asamoah Gyan’s hair isn’t all I’d talked it up to be… B(
40 min: YIKES! After a choppy string of minutes, Ayew gets a questionable yellow, the freekick is floated and it looks like Müller is jumping to head it…he MISSES, which greatly confuses Richard Kingson in goal. He lets it bounce through, and luckily it is wide of goal.
42 min: Müller’s turn for a yellow, this one deserved, as he scythes down Mensah the Elder while chasing down a half-cleared long ball.
HALFTIME! Superexciting so far! Both teams are pulsating with attacking intent. Ghana have had a lot to do in defense, but are keeping cool heads for now. Gyan & Ayew are looking spritely when they throw things into counterattack mode.
46 min: We’re back! Podolski has already has a long-distance pop float hopelessly over the Ghanaian goal.
50 min: A loooong hoof forward bounces throah to Kwadwo Asamoah, it takes a somewhat high bounce as he volleys it directly at the German keeper. That was a tasty looking chance…
52 min: Damn! Sarpei wriggles up from left back, amidst an almost total lack of breathing room, evading several Germans before having the ball taken off him by Lahm. Meanwhile, replays show K. Asamoah’s goal chance richocheted off his ankle as he tried to volley.
54 min: As a Ghana move was building up, Gyan sends the ball goalwards in a non-threatening, when he has a free man gracefully gliding up on his left. The guy is maybe getting selfish—is Asamoah Gyan the new Sulley Muntari?
58 min: John Mensah is again crucial for the Black Star defense, breaking up several attempts at sexxxy triangulating give & gos on the edge of the box. Lahm & Müller are probing threateningly…
59 min: GOAL!!! 1-0 GERMANY…as Müller sets up Ozil at the top of the half-moon. He takes one touch and guides it just above Kingson. Germany’s passing in the final third has been looking threatening all game, now they’ve converted a chance.
60 min: Yikes! Immediately a chance for Ghana. It’s headed clear, then Neuer almosttt leaves Germany exposed as he fails to punch clear from a corner. Already ANOTHER Ghana corner as I type, and this one is punched to safety with a bit more forthrightness.
63 min Sub: Inter Milan attacking midfielder and probable diva Sulley Muntari comes on for Prince Tagoe. Ghana are obviously looking for an equalizer here.
LET IT BE NOTED: If Ghana lose 1-0 and Australia–Serbia remains 0-0 (as it is now), The Black Stars will still qualify.
65 min: Sliding intervention!, as Lil Cap’n Lahm breaks up a lip-smacking chance which Ayew was winding up for.
UPDATE! AUSTRALIA 1-0 SERBIA! Ghana would qualify as 2nd in the group if Australia win—they’d both finish with 4 points, but the Aussie’s goal difference is shit after getting maltreated 4-0 by Germany.
73 min: It’s Mensah once more (maybe it’s the other one this time, can’t rightly say!), sliding in to negate a counterattack when trouble was brewing.
UH OH, 2-0 SOCCEROOS! Ghana’s goal difference is now 0, Australia’s -2…Black Stars are through to play the USA if that ground doesn’t get made up.
80 min: I’m not part of the Hate America faction, but I’m not sure I fancy US chances against this Ghana squad. Although they trail, they have been very impressive today. They’re tactically tight with really positive, fluent passing movement.
82 min: Ghana look really cautious (or perhaps unambitious) here…do they know the score of Austalia–Serbia, and hence that a 1-0 loss still sees them through?
RUMBLERUMBLE…SERBIA CLAW ONE BACK, IT’S 2-1. If the Serbs come back and make it 2-2 they’ll go through in place of Ghana, with the same goal difference but having scored more goals. AAAND, apparently Serbia just had a legit equalizer disallowed, wowza.
90 min…and there will be 3 more! Tentative dancing has broken out among the Ghana fans in attendance!
90 seconds of bliss for young Ghana hotshot Dominic Adiyiah, who enters to replaced Andre Ayew.
PEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! It finishes 1-0, the Black Stars falling (somewhat unfairly perhaps) to a quality strike from Ozil.
AAAND 3 PEEPS have also been heard for Australia-Serbia, which finishes 2-1 to the Socceroos. Germany have won Group C with 6 points, and Ghana become the sole African side in the final 16 with their second place finish.
Soooo, the English press can crank up the Historic Insecurity machines, as they will face Germany this Sunday. The USA SoccerPatriots will face Ghana on Saturday, a prospect they may or may not relish. Still, we’ll be motivated to avenge the 2006 group stage lost which sent us packing:
A theoretical US win on Saturday would see us facing the winner of South Korea–Uruguay for a place in the semis—BUT LET US NOT GET AHEAD OF OURSELVES!
THNXXX for reading today, where applicable. We hope to provide you with more editorial romps and the “journalistic” equivalent of styrofoam peanuts, with future BOLAS & BANDEIRAS match coverage! PEACE OUT!
Apologies for lull in B&B coverage here! I’d intended to cover the game this morning, but was overwhelmed by anxiety, and a nagging feeling I needed to be a more diligent spectator, pulling and “praying” for the USA. A frustrating game, but ultimately orgasmic!
So who will The Ole US of A meet in the Round of 16?! Find out, •LIVE!• here starting at 14:30 eastern timmmmmmme!!! I’ll be attempting to relay to you the clash between GERMANY–GHANA, with relevant asides to the goings on in SER–AUS. Cya then!
Not trying to be toooo harsh, I welcome the decline of USA supremacy as well! at least we can say our most offensive media jingoism originates from the same sewer!
Nationalistic, soccer-related Stimmung in Berlin is serious right now. The World Cup here 4 years ago was seen as the breaking of a certain flag-taboo: whereas before it was questionable and mildly-shocking to wave a German flag at any time, during the World Cup everyone and their mother gladly smeared the black-red-yellow on their cheeks and hung huge flags from their balconies. It was undoubtedly a case of athletic sublimation of nationalistic/militaristic sentiment. The German flag now symbolizes die Mannschaft more than it does the country.
In my neighborhood of Neukölln, a largely immigrant community, flags are a-flying more so than in most other areas. My friend told me that, when Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon are not taking part in a football competition, the Arabic immigrants support the German national team more than many Teutonic Germans.
My friend and I overheard a funny story last night while waiting for our halloumi sandwiches at a Lebanese sandwich shop. The Arabic proprietors of the building next door were lowering a gigantic German flag from the roof, which stretched 4 stories down to just above street level. The man who seemed to be the owner of the flag said that someone tore the flag down a few days ago. He didn’t know who or why. My friend assumed it was some anti-fascist, left-wing Germans (many of whom also live in Neukölln), to whom the sight of a monstrously large German flag would be poisonous. The man said that now he has arranged security, who would guard the flag throughout the night. Such patriotic sentiment would be rare to find in most citizens of German-descent.
There’s a great piece in the Guardian by David Hytner about the new, young, “multi-kulti” German football generation who have impressed the world in their drubbing of Australia last week:
“We are aware that it’s something new to have German national players with Turkish, Ghanaian, Nigerian or Tunisian roots but for our generation, it’s very normal,” said Khedira, who is the DFB’s poster boy for the liberation generation. “We have some players called Khedira and some called Müller. We don’t know any differently.”
There remains a section of Germany’s support that struggles to come to terms with the multiculturalism, traditionalists who complain about some of the players not singing the national anthem. Ozil murmurs verses from the Koran when it plays. But Aogo says “people shouldn’t attach too much importance” to this. “I don’t sing the national anthem and I am still proud to play for Germany.”
Over and above the socio-political benefits, there are also those of a footballing nature. “Up front, we exude a bit of Latin or southern ease but defensively, we are incredibly disciplined, very German,” said Khedira. Ozil noted that “my technique and feeling for the ball is the Turkish side to my game and the always-give-your-all attitude is the German part” while Aogo said that “the mixture of African physical strength and European tactical awareness can be very good for the DFB”.
That last part is a bit funny. It seems that if nationalism, in a nu-politically-correct world, is given new life through football, then the same happens with cheap cultural stereotypes?
… with their matching jacket/hat/scarf combo and synchronized flag-waving celebrations?:
Relatives of the Dear Leader? Escaped ex-pats, unable to escape the athletic element of Juche? Someone also told me they were all Chinese.
I also enjoyed the sight of these two mugs who seemed to have sneaked their way into the North Korean fan-section. The one on the left is madly waving a PRK flag. Effective, defensive football spreading the light of Juche to the hearts of the corrupted West?:
As for North Korea’s star striker, he is the Japan‑born Jong Tae-se, who plays in Japan’s J‑League, drives a Hummer and finds his team‑mates appealingly quaint. Writing on his blog earlier this year, Jong described a stopover on a team trip from Switzerland to Austria, during which his team‑mates were stunned to discover you had to pay to use the gents in a station. “They turned to me,” recalled Jong, “and said, ‘This is truly what capitalist society is like.'” It’s a reasonable point.
It’s hard to tell if the negative press about the official 2010 WC match ball, the Jabulani, is just posterior-covering by goalkeepers who might get caught out, if it’s documenting legitimate complaints, or if its just a lazy meme for the press to riff off of.
One context in which I’ll find absolutely no sympathy is the new wave of English excuse-making, with some Brave English Lions (in particular Emile Heskey, who blew a chop-licking chance to win the England-USA game) blaing the ball for their less than stellar performance. The Germans seemed to have no problem with it! Turns out, like everything else football-related in England, it’s an issue of $$$ & corporate sponsorship!
Regardless, England’s toils against the USA contrasted markedly with Germany’s 4-0 dismissal of Australia some 24 hours later. That game was played at sea level in Durban, though England’s players noted the Germans’ success in taming the much criticised Adidas Jabulani ball, with the Bundesliga having adopted the World Cup ball, which had been launched last December, this year. The Premier League has a deal with Nike and could not follow suit, while the Football Association is contracted to Umbro for international fixtures, thereby preventing Capello’s side experimenting with the new ball in the friendly with Egypt in March. England have been using it every day since they gathered in Austria for a pre-tournament training camp, barring the Wembley friendly against Mexico.
The Jabulani was, however, used in domestic leagues in Switzerland, Portugal, the United States, South Africa and the Netherlands last season, and in the French Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. No complaints over its performance were received, with tests in sessions at Chelsea, Real Madrid and Milan also producing positive feedback.
There has been an ominous amount of overhit crosses, crap corners, and misplaced passes. Hopefully those who are just now acclimatizing to the Jabulani will start to master it.
But I’ve seen a lot of conflicting info…did Iker Casillas, as has been frequently quoted, compare the Jabulani to a beach ball or did he “produce positive feedback” while testing it at Real Madrid?
Editor’s Note!: I’m at superintensive archivist’s camp this week, all day every day, so there’ll be no live-blogging for me and I will be watching games mostly on replay. Surely my co-bloggers will have something to say during my radio silence. That said, I’ll try to have some evening ruminations up for you. Particularly in the next two days, with the tournament debuts of favorites Brasil & España! Bear with us, loyal readers!