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Germany vs. Portugal

A satisfying, well-played game. Both teams kept up the pace in the second half. Much credit goes to the German side -- they really played with a kind of heart which reminds me so much of their 2002 style. It was great fun to watch them barge down the field. The Portuguese, in comparison, excelled at sliding in from out of nowhere. But it was clear that in this game, the Germans were the better skilled team. Schweinsteiger's first glorious goal was fast, hard and just passed Ricardo's fingers. His second goal, technically, was a bit of luck for the Germans, though quite an embarrassing way to get one. So it was great to see him score a third and final time, interestingly, moments before he was replaced. Still, a wonderful long-distance shocker that went right between Ricardo's arms (you just have to love slow-motion replays for these things). As expected, Neuville made his complimentary appearance as a substitute, though I have felt he wasn't quite up to form this World Cup around. Klose is the better of the two, injuries notwithstanding.

The Figo - Gomes header was an honorable concession to the Portuguese side, who at the very least will leave this World Cup with one goal to call their own. No real way I think for Ollie Kahn to have caught that one either - Gomes showed up out of the blue, and it was a great header. Speaking of the Kahn, though he didn't have nearly as much work as Ricardo here, he still had room to show off some of the great stops he's capable off. Did good work stopping Deco at one point. Wonderful stuff hearing the Germans sing his name after. The Kahn I remember from 2002 was the sort of goalkeeper who bodily threw himself from end to end of the goal, with a kind of agility you wouldn't expect from such a tall, square-ish build. He was the sort of player who could scare the panties off whatever unfortunate souls were sent to face him, and he could do this from half a field away. Really, the sort of goalkeeper one tells tiny awestruck grandchildren about. It's absolutely horrible he's 37 now, and might not see the next World Cup. For once, I agree with the SBS commentator: It's a travesty a player of Kahn's skill has only played one World Cup. A player of such skill and such charisma -- this man has better lungs and better presence than Ballack with the band around his arm. And the German side played with exactly what he said pre-World Cup they've been lacking: eggs.

By the way, yes, I know Lehmann's still around, and he's also 37, and who knows where he'll be in 4 years, and yes, he's a frightening goalkeeper too. :)

Back to the game and speaking of players we may never see on the field again. This game had at least two, Figo and Kahn, who both wore the Captain's armband for their final appearances. Figo also makes a complimentary appearance in the last 15 minutes, and set up the lovely Portuguese goal. I am now quite fearful of the French game tomorrow because of this -- bad enough Kahn is probably gone with this one, there'll be Zidane tomorrow morning.

I'll slip in this comparison about the coaches here, before I forget. Klinsmann is always such a nervous wreck on the bench. He's an interesting bloke to watch, always honestly happy when there's a goal or honestly feeling something at other times. I like the earnestness. And, he's something of a looker, given that many of the other coaches are chubby, middle-aged types. Speaking of which, Scolari is the direct polar opposite of Klinsmann - being chubby and middle-aged, and rather a drama queen. He seems very easily excitable, so it's quite amusing to watch him hop around. The Portuguese team has built quite a reputation for itself at playing dead and making silly noises where there shouldn't be any. This should be well noted for any other teams up for this sort of thing (and the Australian as well as many of the African teams have been up for this sort of thing): complain enough, and the officials will learn to ignore you.

Just one more day of no sleep and I can be a real person again!

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