Germany are through to the semi-finals after producing another masterful performance to beat Argentina 4-0 at Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium. Diego Maradona’s Albiceleste came into this match with high hopes of avenging their quarter-final defeat in 2006 but they ultimately had no answer to a slick, powerful German side who will now face either Spain or Paraguay in the last four.
Games as eagerly-anticipated as this one often disappoint, but this particular encounter took just three minutes to catch fire as Joachim Low's side snatched an early advantage. Bastian Schweinsteiger provided the assist with a superbly judged inswinging free-kick, and with Sergio Romero caught in no man’s land, Thomas Muller applied the slightest of headed touches to flick the ball into the net. It was Germany’s 200th FIFA World Cup™ goal, their fastest in 32 years and the quickest so far at South Africa 2010. The only downside for Low’s side was that it left Argentina with 87 minutes to respond.
However, it was the Germans who continued to carve out the better chances, with Miroslav Klose - winning his 100th cap – firing wastefully over from the edge of the box after some outstanding, unselfish set-up play from Muller. Argentina attempted to grab a foothold, with Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain creating decent shooting positions, but on each occasion Manuel Neuer proved equal to their goal-bound efforts.
Nevertheless, as the match wore on, La Albiceleste relied increasingly on speculative long-range efforts, with the subdued Lionel Messi firing over just before the break and Di Maria missing the left-hand post by a matter of inches with a ferociously-struck 25-yard drive. Germany also remained a constant threat on the break, and Podolski – who had earlier come close to scoring himself – was to lead the counter-attack that provided Low’s team with their all-important second goal.
With the second half reaching its midway point, the Cologne forward broke clear on the left and, from a position where he would have been forgiven for shooting, he instead squared intelligently for Klose to tap home from inside the six yard box. The goal left Argentina with little option but to throw men forward, and with Diego Maradona’s side over-committed, Germany proceeded to pick them off on the break.
Within six minutes of Klose making it two, Arne Friedrich removed any lingering doubts over the outcome with another close-range finish, profiting on this occasion from a dazzling solo run from the excellent Schweinsteiger. There was even time for Klose to rub salt into Argentinian wounds, side-footing home Mesut Ozil's measured cross with a minute remaining to round off a memorable German win.