Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Italy beats Germany

Germany out played Italy for an overwhelming majority of the match, but once it got to overtime, they were missing the intensity.

As soon as overtime started, Germany seemed to be working for the shoot out. Italy, having been shown the door of the World Cup all to often by the shoot out, knew they needed to win this thing before kicks. Germany got lucky in the first couple minutes as two Italian shots took favorable bounces off the posts. Germany calmed the match down for a while, but, just like in the first 90, they were not able to break the Italian's defensive line. They would poke around, but could find no hole (or didn't go for the hole when it was there).

Then something strange happened. In the 115th minute, the Germans just went into coma mode. It was as if they thought they had already played enough and that penalty kicks would soon come their way. From that point on, Italy dominated.

The game winning goal was a great shot, but it more the result of lack of play by the Germans then fantastic style by the Italians. It was amazing how much time Italy had in the box before that shot. There was a little over 5 seconds from the time the corner kick was taken to the time of the shot. The craziest thing is the two Italians who touch the ball during most of those 5 seconds (Pirlo and Grosso) were unchallenged. Grosso was open when he got the pass, but Ballack was close enough that had he run at him, he could have either deflected the shot, caused Grosso to try and dribble around or forced him to try to make the shot off a tighter angle.

But that did not have to be the option. Schweinsteiger had a chance at stopping the pass between the two Italians, but for some reason did not try to extend his leg to do so.

I'm not trying to take anything away from Italy, as they deserve this win. Even though their play was weak for 90 or so minutes, the defense was still strong enough to shut down the German attack. Also, once they saw that the ref was not going to buy their diving, they actually played without all the acting. Who knew the Italians could play without rolling around in the pitch like dogs scratching at fleas?

Two last thoughts on this game. First, Phillipp Lahm played a fantastic match for Germany. He disappeared for about 20-minutes of the second half, but other then that, he was wonderful. Second, seeing Kahn console Lehmann after the match was great, but one must wonder if Kahn was thinking, "I could have stopped that shot."



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