One by one, Germany is settling old scores.
First came England. Not only did the Germans beat their old rivals, they finally got payback for that goal-not-a-goal in 1966. Then it was pesky Argentina, in what’s fast becoming the World Cup’s version of Yankees-Red Sox.
Next up: Spain, the team that beat Germany in the European Championship final two years ago.
“We are not speaking of revenge,” German coach Joachim Loew said. “That hasn’t been on my mind at all.”
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And all these Germany back stories have been almost as juicy as the games themselves.
It’s been more than 40 years, and the Germans are still nursing a grudge about Geoff Hurst’s just-over-the-line goal (or was it?) that helped England win its only title in 1966.
Any time Germany plays England it’s high drama, and the teams’ second-round matchup in South Africa was no exception.
Germany’s 4-1 rout, England’s worst loss at a World Cup, would have been satisfaction enough. But England was robbed of Frank Lampard’s goal late in the first half that would have tied the score and, possibly, changed the direction of the game.
Argentina and Germany’s relationship has been testy since they traded World Cup titles in back-to-back finals in 1986 and ’90, and now it’s downright ugly. After Germany eliminated Argentina on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals four years ago, the teams exchanged punches and kicks in a display so undignified it would have embarrassed even Don King. On Saturday, Germany embarrassed Argentina, 4-0.
And now there’s Spain.
The final score in the Euro 2008 final may only have been 1-0, but the game was far more lopsided than that.
“Spain is still ruling supreme in Europe but, in terms of quality, I think we have improved, big time,” Germany striker Miraslov Klose said Sunday. “A few years ago, people kept saying, ‘Isn’t it a shame there aren’t any new generations coming through? We’ve no forwards coming through, no creative midfielders coming through,’ and everybody deplored that.
“But time has proved these people wrong.”
Mauricio Espinosa, the Uruguayan linesman who failed to see Lampard’s shot cross the line, has described the error as “unfortunate.” He said the realization he’d made a mistake left a “very bitter” feeling, but that there was no option now but to “get on with things” as “these are things that can happen in football.” … Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has undergone successful surgery for a back injury sustained at the World Cup and could be out three months. … Coach Gerardo Martino is leaving the Paraguay national team, and striker Roque Santa Cruz says this was his last World Cup. Martino and Santa Cruz announced their plans as the team arrived home following a 1-0 loss in the quarterfinals to Spain. … Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has dropped a threat to suspend the national soccer team from playing for two years because of its poor World Cup showing and corruption allegations.