Diego Maradona wandered into a crowded room in Munich, took a seat, and prepared to address a press conference after his Argentina side had beaten their hosts 1-0 in Munich. Then he glanced to his right, spotted a fresh-faced youngster in a Germany tracksuit and wondered what was happening.
After all, it was somewhat unusual for a coach’s meeting with the press to have an extra person in attendance. That was debutant Thomas Muller, who in the heat of the moment, Maradona failed to recognise. However, El Pelusa will no longer have a problem identifying the 20-year-old. He may, however, have trouble erasing him from his nightmares. FIFA.com reflects on how Muller, and fellow Hyundai Best Young Player contender Javier Pastore, did at Green Point Stadium.
Thomas Muller: The Germany attacker enhanced his fairytale FIFA World Cup™ with another emphatic performance. It took Argentina just three minutes to become his latest victim. Bastian Schweinsteiger whipped a free-kick into the penalty area and Muller, his hunger to reach the ball apparent, got in front of Nicolas Otamendi and glanced a header into the back of the net. He then created a glorious chance for Bayern Munich team-mate Miroslav Klose, who uncharacteristically skewed it over the bar, before almost working himself into a shooting position, following a purposeful dribble, only to be foiled by the outstretched leg of Nicolas Burdisso. Muller continued to cause Diego Maradona’s charges problems in the second half, linking up well with Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil until, with his team 3-0 up, Joachim Low elected to end his 20-year-old pupil’s afternoon. The standing ovation he received from the Germany supporters upon his 84th-minute withdrawal spoke volumes.
The only downside to an illuminative individual performance was the yellow card Muller received that will rule him out of the semi-finals. "The fact that we won't have him is a serious blow because he has shown how dangerous he is,” lamented Low. Muller preferred to reflect on the abundant positives: “Fantastic. It's insane to beat Argentina 4-0. It's hard to find the words for a result like that. I think Germany is quaking right now and that's the right way to celebrate this."
Javier Pastore: With 70 minutes gone and his side trailing 2-0, Argentina coach Maradona chose to throw on the Palermo playmaker in preference to more established match-winners such as Juan Sebastian Veron, Sergio Aguero and Diego Milito. It was a show of confidence that Pastore failed to vindicate. Over half of his 21 passes went astray, his two attempted crosses were wayward, and his two shots on goal were high and wide. Germany, in the meantime, scored another two goals without reply.