I hate the qualifying rounds of International football with a passion; the football is usually tedious, the teams are under-prepared compared to the clubs from which the players come and more often than not you see one team having a massive advantage over their opponents which results in a rather one sided affair (see Ireland’s result against Germany on Friday night for instance).
So, last night in Berlin we had a game where you could consider both sides to be near evenly matched or at least close enough to make the game a decent spectacle. Germany was taking on Sweden in the Olympic Stadium where the new ‘Brazil of Europe’, Joachim Low’s Germany have been impressive in playing an expansive, quick paced and technically beautiful game somewhat adding on previous typical German efficiency and technical accomplishment. The German’s have had a whole raft of new, gifted youngsters come through such as Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller for example who have showed that while the team continue to work as hard as ever as a unit they can also express themselves in a manner which is both aesthetically pleasing to the eye and devastating against those who are not as quick witted with their feet.
Last night, Germany took the game to Sweden early on, scoring two goals within the opening 15 minutes, both from veteran striker Miroslav Klose who is on target to break Gurd Muller’s all time goal scoring record for Germany (what was the West Germany) and Mesut Ozil scored the fourth in the 55th minute. At this stage, you, me, the 80,000 spectators at the stadium and any one else would have said that this game was over and the Swede’s were a pale shade of a decent football team. Well, out of nothing, the Swede’s didn’t lie down and instead came back to cap the most remarkable of come backs with 4 goals in 30 minutes, the final one from Rasmus Elm in the 93rd minute. The goals can be viewed below.
Low, who was quite rightly stunned afterwards told reporters:
‘Normally we would not waste a four-goal lead. The problem seems to have been mental after 60 minutes. We became sloppy and lost our discipline.‘
While Schweinsteiger seems perplexed and near speechless too:
‘I can’t explain it. I’ve never experienced anything like this‘
Even Sweden’s coach, Erik Hamren didn’t think that his team was going to get a result at half-time:
‘Did we believe we could get a result at 3-0 down at half-time? No, no, there was no one who thought that.’
However, Sweden’s most prolific player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic tells us what happened when he and his team mates walked on the pitch for the second half:
‘It was 11 different players who came out for the second half. We played in a completely different way … I don’t know how to describe it. We were too scared and had too much respect in the first half. After my first goal I felt they were backing off more and more.’
You most definitely played in a very different way Ibra…