England Got As Far As It Deserved, But Where Will Germany End Up?

Germany v England: 2010 FIFA World Cup - Round of Sixteen i i

Manuel Neuer of Germany watches the ball bounce over the line from a Frank Lampard shot. Referee Jorge Larrionda said the ball did not cross the line. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Germany v England: 2010 FIFA World Cup - Round of Sixteen

Manuel Neuer of Germany watches the ball bounce over the line from a Frank Lampard shot. Referee Jorge Larrionda said the ball did not cross the line.

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

No sour grapes from this Englishman: Germany deserved its win.

In Germany this game will likely be remembered as the beginning of a new Golden Age for German soccer. One of the youngest teams in the tournament established itself today as a genuine championship contender with a display of clinical finishing against a fragile English defense that repeatedly parted like the Red Sea.

In England, this game will likely pass into legend for an atrocious officiating decision. After going two goals down early, England stormed back; Matthew Upson scored from a header to make it 2-1 and a couple of minutes later Frank Lampard’s tremendous shot hit the underside of the crossbar and clearly crossed the line for the equalizer. Forty-thousand fans in the stadium saw it. Television replays showed the ball a yard over the line, but the linesman and referee missed the call.

Instead of starting the second half tied at 2-2 and with the momentum in its favor, England was forced to push forward and twice got caught badly on the counter-attack, breaking open what had been a tightly fought game.

But no excuses.

A team that defends that poorly doesn’t deserve to win at this level. England clearly missed the injured Rio Ferdinand, while John Terry’s latest scandal was his utter ineptness — out of position and a step behind the pace all day, his error led to Germany’s first goal.

Now the question is how far can Germany go?  At long last the nation has finally embraced its multi-cultural heritage; the team has players of Brazilian, Ghanaian and Turkish extraction.   Hard to believe the characters in Werner Fassbinder’s 1974 movie Fear Eats the Soul — a searing indictment of Germany’s treatment of its Turkish minority — could have envisaged a day when one of the most exciting players on the team is an attacking midfielder called Mesut Özil.

With a great veteran striker Miroslav Klose leading the attack and solid goalkeeping, this team is the real deal.

For believers in karma, the disallowed English goal is another portent for Germany. In 1966 Geoff Hurst’s controversial “ghost goal” off the cross bar helped England defeat Germany. Now the tables are turned with England on the wrong end of a dubious decision involving a crossbar and a linesman.

As for England, if Fabio Capello stays, he’ll be rebuilding: England desperately needs a striker to pair with Rooney, wide players who can break down international defenses, midfield players who work well together and a new defense.  Prety much a brand new team.

The verdict on this squad: it got about as far as it deserved.

Hopefully, this game will make the case for reviewing dubious goal line calls. FIFA needs to introduce either video reviews, goal line technology using a chip embedded in the ball, or simply stick an additional linesman behind each goal for international matches, much as Major League Baseball adds additional umpires during the World Series.

The legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said, “Football isn’t  
a matter of life and death, it’s more important than that.”

Well, it is really only a game.  But it’s time a game played by professionals is officiated professionally.

FIFA needs to give a red card to games turning on dreadful decisions by referees.

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