World Cup Blog: Ozil struggles and Muller can’t emulate Brentford ace, but Germany set up France clash
07:24 01 July 2014
World Cup round of 16: Germany 2 Algeria 1; France 2 Nigeria 0
Mesut Ozil may have scored the what turned out to be the winner for Germany against Algeria but he was lucky to still be on the pitch after a poor display.
The Arsenal man failed to track back and nearly paid the price in the first half as Faouzi Ghoulam broke free and fired a shot just wide of Manuel Neuer’s goal.
He should have scored earlier in extra time when he was played clean through but Rafik Halliche, who could barely move, was able to dispossess him.
Despite Andre Schurrle’s opener early into the extra time period, the game was crying out for the goalscoring prowess of Miroslav Klose as Ozil was struggling to keep pace with the game.
However, the Gunners playmaker found himself in the right place at the right time in the final moments of extra time to slam the ball home after interplay with Schurrle.
The goal was scarcely deserved after that performance and it was a cruel result on Algeria, who did at least give their supporters something to celebrate when Abdelmoumene Djabou fired home a consolation.
Many would have been surprised at the intensity of the Fennec Foxes, given that most would remember the awful game with England in the 2010 World Cup – unless, of course, time had eroded that painful memory.
The comedy moment of the contest was when Thomas Muller attempted a tactical slip from a free kick.
It appeared as if the free-scoring German was taking the free kick but fell and then ran past the ball.
Bastian Schweinsteiger tried to find him in the box but was unable to as the routine came to nothing.
It appears as if the tactical slip when it comes to free kicks is becoming more common.
Last Boxing Day, Brentford winger Sam Saunders had a free kick on the edge of the Swindon penalty area.
As he stepped up to take it, he slipped causing much mirth among the away fans, and the home supporters.
The Robins fell silent after he curled the second attempt into the top corner, with the Bees supporters laughing as Saunders re-enacted his fall as his celebration.
Germany will now face France, who eased past Nigeria, in the quarter finals.
Les Bleus were my outside tip for the tournament before they even qualified through the play-offs against Ukraine.
While many were tipping Belgium to be a surprise package, too many for them to be considered dark horses in my view, most had ignored Didier Deschamps’ side.
They had an easy group on paper but that offers no guarantee of qualification as any England fan knows.
It wasn’t overly pretty against Nigeria in the second round but they found a way thanks to Paul Pogba before securing their passage with a late Joseph Yobo own goal.
Germany will provide a stiffer test but Les Bleus have nothing to be afraid of and a return to the semi finals will certainly secure their surprise package status.
Elsewhere, it can’t go un-noticed that Luis Suarez has issued an apology for his bit on Giorgio Chiellini.
He wrote: “After several days of being home with my family, I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect about the reality of what occurred during the Italy-Uruguay match on 24 June 2014.
“Independent from the fallout and the contradicting declarations that have surfaced during these past days, all of which have been without the intention of interfering with the good performance of my national team, the truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me. “For this:
“I deeply regret what occurred.
“I apologize to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family.
“I vow to the public that there will never again be another incident like this.”
Chiellini has accepted the apology and once again called for the ban to be reduced but given Suarez’s original defence of losing his balance, a claim ridiculous in the extreme, the ban should stand.