Tag Archives: Marin

Technology debate rekindled in wake of questionable decisions

Two World Cup matches, two flashpoints. The widespread acclaim that greeted the referees at the outset of the 2010 World Cup has well and truly evaporated by now.

This World Cup has seen its share of controversial decisions. Having come back from a two goal deficit, the United States were wrongly denied a winner by referee Koman Coulibaly. The Malian official ruled out Michael Bradley’s late goal for a foul. Video technology would have revealed that no infringement took place in the Slovenian penalty area.

Kaká, one of the stars of world football, was dismissed for an apparent elbow against Côte d’Ivoire. Television replays revealed that Sebastien Lannoy was deceived by the Ivorian winger, Kader Keita. Kaká was suspended as a result of the incorrect decision.

The events of Sunday, June 27 will be impossible to forget for fans of England and Mexico. Frank Lampard’s legitimate goal against Germany, which may have had a profound effect on the outcome, was not given. A simple television replay would have given the referee the information required to make an informed decision. Goal-line technology has long been advocated by a large number of managers at both club and international level. A system similar to the famous Hawkeye technology  used in cricket and tennis matches could be utilised to great effect by FIFA. For some, the solutions are even simpler. Mark Ogden, The Daily Telegraph’s Northern Football Correspondent, shared a rudimentary, yet effective, idea via his Twitter page.

“Sandpit behind the line. If the ball is in, it will stop dead and won’t bounce. Simple.”

The suggestion initially seems laughable. On second look, it appears more sensible than ridiculous. In any case, it marks a marked improvement on incorrect or unfair decisions.

Sepp Blatter’s repeated rejection of calls for television replays are folly. Blatter, who once remarked that “we must never stop the match with videos or monitors to look at what has happened”, is clearly not a fan of other sports. Almost every other major sport has some form of “video referee”. In American football, coaches are given flags. In cases where a questionable decision is made by a the referees or umpires, the coach may throw one of his limited number of challenge flags onto the field and call for the referee’s decision to be ‘sent to the booth’. The match referee then consults the video replay and reevaluates his previous decision.

The apparent infallibility of referees in association football is misguided. As Carlos Tevez wheeled away in jubilation at having scored the opening goal in the Round of 16 match against Mexico, replays on the scoreboard at Soccer City showed how the Argentine was offside when Lionel Messi played the crucial assist to him. The fans, players, coaching staff and officials were instantly given access to a view at what had actually occurred. Mexico’s players were particularly incensed. They, rightly, angrily confronted Roberto Rosetti and his assistant. Having seen their mistake, the officials should have been given the authority to reverse the  decision. They were unable to do this. Mexico, demoralised by the goal, promptly conceded a second through a defensive error which may or may not have been the result of a lapse in concentration stemming from the earlier refereeing error.

The safety and welfare of referees is threatened by their inability to correct their mistakes. Referees have been targeted by tabloid campaigns and, far more worryingly, death threats. In the interest of fairness and in the interest of safety for their referees, FIFA must take positive action towards implementing corrective technology no matter what form that may take.

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Germany beat Ghana to secure top spot

Germany 1-0 Ghana


Germany beat Ghana by a single goal in an enthralling contest in Soccer City. An unexpected win for Australia means that both teams progress to the Round of 16. Germany will now face England in what might prove to be the tie of the round, while Ghana will play Group C’s winners, the United States. In an entertaining match, both sides played for the win and created numerous chances. Mesut Özil, an early contender for player of the tournament, scored the crucial goal for Die Nationalmannschaft with a scintillating strike from just outside the penalty area.

Both teams, as they had displayed in their earlier games, played engaging, attacking football in the early stages. Both teams seemed eager to soak up pressure and unleash it back upon their opponents on the counterattack.

The best of the early opportunities came when Mesut Özil was played through on goal. The surging rush out by Richard Kingson smothered the Bremen midfielder’s shot before it could threaten his goal.

At the other end, Asamoah Gyan’s goalbound header was cleared off the line by German captain Philipp Lahm. Replays suggested that the Bayern München defender’s arm may have diverted the ball from it’s path but in any case it was accidental.

Tidy interplay between Thomas Müller and Sami Khedira allowed Cacau to get a volley away. Unfortunately for the Brazilian-born forward, his shot bounced into the arms of Richard Kingson in the Ghanian goal.

Ghana only needed a draw to progress but displayed plenty of vigorous intent in the first half but were unable to find a way past Manuel Neuer and his rigid defence.

The teams headed down the tunnel at the break with the scores somehow still locked at 0-0. Germany would need to be patient. They had looked menacing in the attacking third but had thus far been thwarted by a strong performance from the Mensahs, John and Jonathan as well as a much improved showing from Kingson.

The second half began with both teams showing the same offensive ambition. Asamoah was one-on-one with Neuer but failed to adequately control the bouncing ball and could only watch the Schalke 04 ‘keeper get his body in the way. The end to end marathon here was probably only bettered by the phenomenal duel at Wimbledon. Both sides taking turns to attack and break.

When it came, the breakthrough went Germany’s way. Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller exchanged tentative short passes before Müller, with his back to goal, turned and progressed with the football into the penalty area. He spotted Mesut Özil on the edge of the 18-yard box and slipped a pass back to the Werder Bremen midfielder. The ball bobbled and sat up perfectly for Özil, who unleashed a blistering shot into the top corner. Kingson, who had until then been exemplary, could only watch.

The goal put Ghana in a precarious situation. A goal for Serbia in the match at Nelspruit would doom their hopes of becoming the only African team to qualify past the group stages. News of a goal did come soon after Özil’s strike. However, it was the Soccerroos and Tim Cahill that were celebrating.

With the lead secure and Ghana still posing an accomplished threat to their goal, Germany were content to control possession and the flow of the game. Terrific spells of passing were instigated by Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger, whose transformation from pacy winger to a central-midfielder has been seamless. The importance of Schweinsteiger to Germany’s chances cannot be understated, which is why it was so worrying for German fans to see him limp from the field of play clutching at his thigh.

With Australia holding on to a 2-1 lead against Serbia, the game ended with both Germany and Ghana progressing. The results presented an accurate representation of the group. Ghana will now carry the hopes of the African continent as its sole representative in the knockout phase while Germany have reached the Second Round yet again.

England lie in wait for the Jogi Löw’s youthful squad. The German personnel will look at England’s performance today against Slovenia and have nothing to fear. It should make for an entertaining match. This talented German side will be boosted by the return of Miroslav Klose and could be on the verge of making an unexpected run into the latter part of this World Cup.

Guest Blog: Die Mannschaft

Veteran blogger and journalist with DCU’s College View, Niall Farrell examines the prospects of perennial contenders Germany.

“You can never write off the Germans.”

Odds of 13/1 mean that the old maxim is again in vogue. Germany are not fancied by many pundits, despite an impressive run of form in qualifying and a fine run of form from star players.

German football is on a high. For a few years now Bundesliga enthusiasts have raved about the league and its balance of profitability and fan-friendliness. This year, the Bundesliga chickens came home to roost. Bayern Munich have made the Champions League final with a spine of German players- something that would have been almost unthinkable a year ago.

“Die Mannschaft” have taken Bayern’s success and the rude health of the Bundesliga and crafted a team that on first glance don’t seem all that talented. On second or third viewing, the German team bear the usual hallmark of efficiency but with a flair that is usually absent from German lineups.

The main strength of the German team lies in a settled midfield. Michael Ballack, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Hitzlsperger and Piotr Trochowski were all in the 2006 World Cup squad. Added to these four experienced campaigners is the youthful exuberence of Marko Marin, Mezut Özil, Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos amongst others.

Up front, Klose and Podolski are also veterans of World Cup 2006. Mario Gomez and Patrick Helmes have not been on form, but Stuttgart’s naturalised Brazilian Cacau gives the squad some attacking options.

If there is a weakness in the German team, it is in defence. René Adler and Manuel Neuer are both capable goalkeepers but whichever ‘keeper wins the number one spot; he will be behind an increasingly shaky defence. Per Mertesacker and Philipp Lahm are regarded as world-class, but in truth Lahm is more of an attacking full-back and Mertesacker often shows a real lack of consistency. Arne Friedrich is the only defender with any top-level (World Cup) experience and serious questions will be asked of Serdar Tasci, Heiko Westermann and Marcel Schäfer as Germany progress to the latter stages of the World Cup.

Germany’s progress is far from assured, though. In a group featuring Australia, Ghana and Serbia, a strong showing will be required to qualify from the group.

World Cup Finals History:

Veritable aristocrats. Germany have qualified for every World Cup, and were winners in 1954, 1972 and 1990.

1954 was the year of “Das Wunder von Bern”- a final in which the Germans (competing as West Germany) faced the Hungarian Aranycsapat (Golden Team). The Aranycsapat, featuring the mighty Ferenc Puskás and Sandor Kocsis, then all-time top scorer at a World Cup final. West Germany won out 3-2, and became the only fully amateur side to win a World Cup.

1974 saw West Germany again win despite facing overwhelming favourites The Netherlands in the final. The Dutch, complete with Johan Cruyff and their total football philiosophy, were defeated by a West German side featuring Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeness.

1990 was Germany’s last World Cup as a divided nation and the country celebrated by winning again- beating Argentina 1-0 in the final. This German side was the one of Lothar Matthäus, Juergen Klinsmann and Rudi Völler.

Germany have finished second four times at World Cups, and finished third twice including at the last World Cup on home territory.

Coach: Joachim Löw

Löw took over as manager of the national team after a spell as assistant manager of the Klinsmann regime that led Germany unexpectedly to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup.

After starting his managerial career with a stint at VfB Stuttgart, Löw won one German Cup and reached the final of the European Cup Winner’s Cup before moving to Fenerbahce for a brief period. In 1999 Löw was appointed head coach at Karlsruher SC but returned to Turkey with Adanaspor after he failed to avert relegation with Karlsruhe. Another short spell in Turkey followed, and Löw eventually moved to Austria with FC Tirol Innsbruck- winning an Austrian Championship. Months later, Innsbruck declared bankruptcy and Loew was left jobless again. Before being appointed as German Assistant, Löw served as manager of Austria Vienna for one season.


Star Player: Bastian Schweinsteiger

After years of hard work at Bayern Munich, the midfielder is at last attracting the attention of big English and Italian clubs. Schweinsteiger is an immensely creative player who also chips in with goals- as his record of nineteen goals in seventy-three international appearances will attest to. Schweinsteiger has been at Bayern for all of his playing career and was a star this season in the Bavarian sides’ stellar 2010 campaign.


One to Watch: Marko Marin

Born in what once was Yugoslavia, Marin is hot property in German football.

‘Matchbox’ Marin is an attacking midfielder in the Zinedine Zidane mould, but can also play as a winger.

Now a regular in the Werder Bremen side that look set to claim third place in the Bundesliga, Marin moved to Werder for 8.5 million from Borussia Moenchengladbach last summer.

Marin is a flair player in the Werder team- succeeding Diego as the main creative force.

At Moenchengladbach, Marin won promotion to the Bundesliga in 2008 and a year later won the European Under-21 Championship. In his first full match for the German senior side, Marin scored against Belgium.

If Marin gets the licence to fully use his attacking ability he could well be a major string on the German bow.