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The Soccer World Cup Opening Game – Germany v Costa Rica Match Report
The first match of this year’s football World Cup surpassed all the previous opening day matches, which are often dull and boring affairs, to produce a truly memorable game. The long-awaited 2006 World Cup kicked off on a fine night in Munich with an enthusiastic but quiet home nation crowd in attendance.
Germany, who were efficient in their approach, perhaps personified by their typically efficient German coach Jurgen Klinsman, set up a regimented 4-4-2 formation, perhaps relying on testing rather than genuine effort. Conspicuously absent from their team was Michael Ballack, who will strengthen the team when he returns from injury later in the tournament.
Costa Rica formation? Your guess might be as good as mine, if you’re going for some sort of 3-6-1. A strange selection by coach Alexandre Guimares.
The tension was clearly felt by the crowd much more than the participants, as from the whistle both sides showed intent to attack.
Centeno showed some neat ball control and surged forward straight through the heart of Germany’s midfield in the first minute, only to be illegally stopped by Frings who was quick to spot the danger. Nothing came from the free kick.
Frings then appeared at the other end moments later and tested the Costa Rican keeper Porras with a shot from distance. Porras was eager to scramble across his goal to get close to the ball, suggesting he may be wary of the new official ball being used by FIFA for this tournament. It appears to be traveling through the air with an irregular flight path.
The German midfield began to take hold of the game, apparently given room to play by the Costa Ricans who were bigger than them, and after only 5 minutes the situation was broken. Costa Rica failed to clear from the edge of their own box, and the ball passed on its way out to the diminutive full-back Lahm on the left flank. Lahm cut in quickly to his right and unleashed a big right-footed shot from outside the corner of the box, which curled into the top of the goal on the left and hit the post on the way.
What a goal to open the World Cup scoring.
Germany had now taken full control of the game, with their midfield four keeping possession well and looking to provide the openings for another goal. Scweinsteiger, who was now getting far too much space to express himself on the left, fed a ball inside to Klose who had evaded his marker, but Porras ran quickly off his line to stop him.
Then, without warning, the German back four were caught hopelessly flat trampled by a Costa Rican one-two. Wanchope teed up Centeno, and his extremely pressured return ball split the German defense wide, with Friedrich alone three yards out on the wrong side. Wanchope was cool as he moved forward, then slotted across the oncoming Lehmann. 1-1 and the moment Tico’s followers in the crowd were now being heard.
Germany took control of possession again, and they were given space to attack down both sides, with Lahm and Schweinsteiger busy down the left, and Schneider dangerous across the right. The second came from Schneider. He received the ball out wide and was guided towards the right corner where he had time to flick his pass to alert Schweinsteiger, whose direct run into the box and cross allowed Klose to tap in easily .
Germany, now completely in control, controlled the rest of the half without creating anything clear, although Podolski and the frings tested the wobbly ball from distance. The Germans’ defense on the back foot looked very questionable, and they were lucky to get the linesmen’s flag when Wanchope was through again on goal. Surely Guimares wouldn’t change things in the second half.
The second period began with more of the same. Podolski went close from the edge of the box in the first minute and set the tone for Germany’s dominance. Their midfield continued to roam almost flawlessly, with Borowski & Frings getting more involved, and Schweinsteiger providing real quality and vision.
The third goal on the hour came from a brilliant move down the left where Schweinsteiger fed Lahm whose deflected cross left Marin, who had easily been Costa Rica’s best defender, flat-footed for once. Klose rose unchallenged to send a header seemingly heading for goal. A fine save from Porras only delayed the inevitable as Klose decisively dispatched the rebound.
The crowd now seemed to be enjoying the occasion as much as the German players, and Lahm again caused problems down the left. Klinsmann saw an opportunity to rest some of his players, and started making substitutions, Kehl on for Borowski.
Suddenly, against the run of play, a precise pass from Centeno exposed the German defence, and Wanchope galloped through the gap to put Costa Rica back in with a shout. Wanchope’s finish was accuracy itself with the outside of his right boot. Lehmann was stunned as he had yet to make a save, but had conceded two goals.
The expected grandstand finish did not come. Costa Rica didn’t seem to have the conviction to get to Germany and cause an upset.
The points were secured on 87 minutes by Frings with an absolute gem of a shot from 30 yards, curling away from a desperate Porras into the top left corner. A fitting end to any game, and one that may not be bettered throughout this tournament.
Final score: Germany 4 Costa Rica 2.
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