Germany light up the tournament with Australia win

By Rhys Hayward
Mesut Özil

Mesut Özil impressed during Germany's 4-0 win over Australia

It was the performance the World Cup needed. After a shaky opening weekend where dodgy goalkeeping and vuvzelas made the majority of the headlines, Germany lit up Durban with a superb display against Australia.

Think of German football and the same old adjectives seem to crop up; efficient, organised, solid.

But since they played with glorious adventure when hosting the competition four years ago, these jingoistic stereotypes should have been shelved.

The British media will of course continue to churn out the same old headlines but any self respecting football observer will have been blown over by Germany’s verve.

There are of course caveats—rarely does a side lose 4-0 without being lacklustre and the Socceroos were certainly that—but that should take nothing away from Joachim Low’s men.

The Polish born pairing of Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose continued their remarkable international scoring records and Klose in particular should have added further to his 11 World Cup goals.

But the real stars of the night were the captain Philipp Lahm and the wonderful Mesut Özil.

Such is the globalised nature of club football that by the time players appear at the World Cup they are usually household names.

Özil however, will have come as something of a pleasant surprise to most British fans.

The Werder Bremen attacker was at the heart of everything good about Germany last night, flitting in between defenders and coming close to grabbing a goal on several occasions.

The virtuoso performance from Lionel Messi aside, his is by far the most electrifying individual performance so far.

England, who could yet face Germany in the second round, will be desperate to have Gareth Barry fit for a possible encounter with the 21-year-old.

Their inability to deal with creative attacking midfielders is renowned and with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard operating together, Ozil would surely be gifted acres of space.

Lahm, on the other hand, was as direct and uncomplicated as the very best attacking full-backs.

Four years ago his thunderbolt in the opening game against Costa Rica, (scored from left-back) got the tournament off to a thrilling start.

Now a 26-year-old with a remarkable 65 caps, the German captain looks even more dangerous on his natural right flank, nicely balancing Thomas Muller’s tendency to drift infield.

History tells us not to get carried away with strong opening performances, but Germany have given the world exactly the boost it needed.

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