Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On that Germany-England match

Was I surprised by the 4-1 outcome of the match between England and Germany? Hardly. If you asked me that question 6 years ago then I’d say Germany would win but by a score of 1-0 or 2-1.

Things changed for the stale German game when Jurgen Klinsmann took over as coach of the national team. He placed an emphasis on speed and quick passing and handed the twin striker positions to Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose. His successor, Joachim Low continued the kind of flowing offense but with a 4-2-3-1 system.

Is that enough to convince me that they would have beaten England? The Germans were clearly the better side against England. Even if Lampard’s goal stood, what were their chances? Matt Upson’s goal was a header from a Steven Gerrard free kick. And so was Lampard’s. Those were the only shots they were getting at Manuel Neuer. Germany… they answered all those questions in their opening match against Australia whom they vivisected 4-0. They were carving up the English defense with terrific passing. They had no answer for Klose, Podolski, Ozil, and Thomas Muller. And still on that botched miscall on Lampard's non-goal (too many negatives don't you think) -- you gotta hand it to Neuer for reacting quickly. Had he stood aimlessly by then refs might have seen... nah. The officials are that stupid.

And the three big questions heading into the tournament --- the first is Diego Marardona the right coach for Albiceleste? And two, can the US repeat their performance from the Confed Cup? And third, can the youth movement blend seamlessly with the veterans on Germany’s Mannschaft?

All three answers are a resounding yes.

The youth movement in Germany has been a success.

In case you don’t know, the Germans are champions in three age levels in European football Under-17, Under-19, and Under-21. The only one they didn’t win was the U-20.

Of the U21 squad, who impressed? Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer, team captain Sami Khedira, Mats Hummels, Gonzalo Castro, and Sandro Wagner. Also on that squad was Jerome Boateng. They beat England 4-0 in the U-21. Their coach Horst Hrubesch figured that his young players would make a good account of themselves come 2014 in Rio. But they have come of age in South Africa playing the most attractive football thus yet.

Just to give you an idea of how good Ozil is, for Werder Bremen, he plays left wing. During the U-21, he was placed in the left and he still scored two goals. In the Finals against England, he was switched to his preferred attacking mid position and he still scored a goal.

Now in South Africa, Low uses him on the right midfield flanks and he should how talented he is by adapting to the position and using not just his speed but his imagination in breaking down defenses.

Much has been asked about the nationalities of Ozil, Khedira, and Boateng. It is a stupid question to begin with. Migration has much to do with this. All three were born in Germany. In the case of Boateng, there is a Ghanaian community in the Fatherland. The first two players of Ghanaian descent to play for the national team in the World Cup were Gerald Asamoah and Patrick Owomoyela. The former played well in Germany ’06. And Boateng, a last minute addition to the team, has started and played well.

On that England side, the only one to crack the Three Lions’ starting XI in South Africa was James Milner.

For the second consecutive World Cup, Frank Lampard scored zero goals. And Wayne Rooney was non-existent. When England needed pace and speed to counter Germany, where was Aaron Lennon? Fabio Capello left him on the bench. Lennon was successful coming on for David Beckham in ’06 where his speed terrorized the Portuguese. He even nearly scored. Instead England was slow and plodding. They should have used their youth players.

Gerrard was right in one respect, they should not use the disallowed goal as an excuse. After all, the US saw Clint Dempsey’s and Maurice Edu’s goals disallowed too and those could have proved costlier for their side except that they didn’t stop playing. Of course, England did not. But John Terry was exposed as slow and unable to deal with the quicker forwards. I guess this is it for him and Jamie Carragher for national duty.

Even worse for England, after their loss to Germany, some of the players’ belongings were stolen from their hotel.

Police were able to recover the stolen items but so much for getting dumped on.

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