Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sportszilla's World Cup Review - July 8, 2006
By Imtiaz Mussa

The third place match is typically a fun match to watch. There is not a much pressure so it allows the teams to loosen up and have some fun out there. The German faithful would love to grab third place after their disappointing loss against Italy in the semis.

Germany vs. Portugal
Germany captain sits this one out resting an injury. German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn came in for his 86th and possibly final cap, while Luis Figo, who was rumored to have had an argument with coach Luis Felipe Scolari before the match, was relegated to the substitutes' bench.

The hosts started positively with Sebastian Kehl going close with a shot through a crowded box that appeared to strike Nuno Valente's hand, while Klose slashed a drive wide on the counter. With only pride at stake, Portugal expressed the kind of freedom that has deserted their play in their previous two outings against England and France. But apart from Pauleta's curling shot from close range and Kehl's deft lob, neither team could muster the enthusiasm needed to seriously trouble the opposing keeper.

Michael Ballack's yawn from the bench summed up the first 45 minutes, but his boredom turned to delight 10 minutes after the restart when Schweinsteiger unleashed a fierce drive from long range. Five minutes later Germany was two up, with Schweinsteiger again at the heart of the attack. The midfielder's low free-kick cannoned off Petit as he tried to clear and ended up in the back of the helpless Ricardo's net. On 76 minutes the disappointing Pauleta made way for Figo who won his 127th and final cap for Portugal. But even he was unable to lift the despondent Portuguese and Schweinsteiger again found the net from outside the box with a sweetly-struck drive that gave Ricardo no chance. Both Miroslav Klose and Podolski were then withdrawn, leaving France striker Thierry Henry needing two to tie and a hat-trick to win the Golden Boot in Sunday's final. Figo's last act in his number seven shirt for Portugal was to lay on a goal for Gomes who headed in from close range. But the night belonged to the hosts who deservedly claimed third spot to the delight of the home support and coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Man of the Match: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)
He had something to do with all three goals that Germany had today. He is the obvious choice in this one as he saved the best for last.

General Thoughts: Germany
Prior to the World Cup, the Germans believed this team would only get to the quarterfinals. But Juergen Klinsmann changed the attitude of the German people as his team played a more offensive and entertaining style. It was nice to see Kahn get the start in what will probably be his final World Cup. Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski were brilliant in this tournament. The fans will be begging Klinsmann to stay on as German manager until Euro 2008. If he does, the Germans will be the favorites because this team is young enough to be kept intact.

General Thoughts: Portugal
Finishing fourth in this World Cup would tell you that the Portuguese had a good run. I’m not sure I look at it that way. The last goal this team scored prior to this game was in the second round against Holland. After that, they were unable to get a goal telling you that there was a problem up front. Pauleta had a nightmare tournament getting only one goal. In the loss against France, Cristiano Ronaldo was the only one trying to make anything happen and his teammates were content to let him carry the load. The one bright spot throughout this tournament was Ricardo who rarely made a mistake. Changes are coming as Figo and Pauleta will probably hang it up.

Germany: Kahn, Jansen, Nowotny, Metzelder, Lahm, Schneider, Kehl, Frings, Schweinsteiger (Hitzlsperger 79), Klose (Neuville 64), Podolski (Hanke 71).
Subs Not Used: Asamoah, Ballack, Borowski, Friedrich, Hildebrand, Lehmann, Mertesacker, Huth, Odonkor.

Booked: Frings, Schweinsteiger

Goals: Schweinsteiger 56, Petit 61 og, Schweinsteiger 78.

Portugal: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Costa, Meira, Nuno Valente (Nuno Gomes 69), Costinha (Petit 45), Maniche, Deco, Ronaldo, Pauleta (Figo 77), Simao.
Subs Not Used: Boa Morte, Caneira, Miguel, Paulo Santos, Postiga, Quim, Tiago, Viana.

Booked: Ricardo Costa, Costinha, Paulo Ferreira

Goals: Nuno Gomes 88.

Att: 52,000

Ref: Toru Kamikawa (Japan)


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