Massacre in Cape Town


Argentina Falls Down
to Germany on All Fours

In the end, the humiliation of not having scored a single goal against your opponent and see it put the last nail on your coffin right before the lights went out has got to be too much.
Argentina, South America’s last realistic candidate to the World Cup in Africa (unless Uruguay can turn its whole defense into goalkeepers, or Paraguay shows what it hasn’t in 80 years), took a historic beating from Germany that it may never forget.
Like Netherlands’s win over Brazil, Germany represented Argentina’s first real test in this tournament. Both failed and their combined seven World Cup championships meant near to nothing. The balance between European and South American teams’ victories may tilt July 11 towards the smaller continent of the two.
It’s curious that both sent lookalikes to replace its best players, Kaká and Messi, which obviously watched the games from the comfort of their European penthouses. And that Germany, whose only star, Michael Ballack, was sidelined with an injury, won with a collective style of game that would make one of his most infamous citizens, Karl Marx, proud.
But to truly connoisseurs of this game, such as the great Brazilian player Tostao, who’s today one of his country’s leading commentators, there was no surprise in what happened on the fields of South Africa. For according to him, both Brazil and Argentina chose a brand of soccer more fitting to a combative European team than to the extreme land of tango and samba.
Both national teams turned their backs on the ornate, exuberant style that produced some of the game most memorable moments of flair and creativity. Both decided that players like him and Maradona were anachronisms of the past, not worthy emulating. Even Maradona himself seemed to have believed in such line of thinking.
In the end, their teams lost, they were forced out of their jobs, and fans will rather forget than forgive them anytime soon. But they will. It’s even possible that a week from now, the future Tostaos and Maradonas and Pelés and Messis will be watching the final.
Germany will always have Miroslav Klose, of course, a player whose finesse on the field can be compared to a blitzkrieg but who’s closer to the record books than anyone playing the game today.
Klose needs two more goals (to be scored, if ever, during the final, since he’ll miss Germany’s next match) to supplant the great Brazilian Ronaldo and replace another German, Gerd Muller, as the World Cup’s top scorer, with 16 goals.
Not bad for a Poland-born player who only moved to Germany when he was nine. He also represents the new-found diversity of the German team, which has players born in different countries but fully committed to give back to their adopted nation, its truly place in the soccer Pantheon.
So, yes, it’s time to praise the Germans. At least until those future Tostaos, Maradonas, Pelés and Messis grow up to re-teach the world how this game can be played with artistry and efficiency. Inaccurately paraphrasing what another South American (who shall remain unnamed) once said, one needs to get tough without ever losing the touch.

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