The Soccer World Cup Opening Game – Germany v Costa Rica Match Report
The first game of this years soccer World Cup surpassed all the previous opening day games, which are often tepid and tiresome affairs, to produce a truly memorable match. The long awaited World Cup 2006 got under way on a balmy Munich evening with an enthusiastic but subdued home nation crowd in attendance.
Germany, efficient in their approach, Germany News perhaps personified by their typically efficient German coach Jurgen Klinsman, fielded a regimented 4-4-2 formation, perhaps trusting to experience rather than real endeavour. Notably absent from their side was Michael Ballack, who will make the side stronger when he returns from injury later in the tournament.
Costa Rica’s formation? Your guess may be as good as mine, if you are going for a sort of 3-6-1. A strange selection from coach Alexandre Guimares.
The tension was evidently being felt by the crowd much more than the participants, as right from the whistle both sides showed attacking intent.
Centeno showed some neat ball control and surged forward right through the heart of the German midfield in the first minute, only to be stopped illegally by Frings who was quick to spot the danger. Nothing came from the free kick.
Frings then appeared at the other end moments later and tested Costa Rican ‘keeper Porras with a shot from distance. Porras was keen to scramble across his goal to get close to the ball, perhaps signifying that he was wary of the new official ball being used by FIFA for this tournament. It does seem to travel through the air with an irregular flight path.
The German midfield began to take hold of the game, seemingly given space to play by the Costa Ricans that outnumbered them, and after just 5 minutes the deadlock was broken. Costa Rica failed to clear from the edge of their own box, and the ball wormed it’s way out to diminutive full back Lahm on the left flank. Lahm swiftly cut in onto his right and unleashed a hefty right foot shot from outside the corner of the box, which curled into the goalie’s top left hitting the post on the way.
What a goal to open the World Cup scoring.
Germany now took full control of the game, with their midfield four keeping possession well and looking to provide the openings for another goal. Scweinsteiger, who was now being givem far too much room to express himself onm the left, fed a ball inside Klose who had evaded his marker, but Porras raced quickly from his line to deter him.
Then, out of the blue, the German back four were caught hopelessly flat footed by a Costa Rican one-two. Wanchope laid off to Centeno, who’s superbly weighted return ball split the German defence wide, with Friedrich three yards adrift on the wrong side. Wanchope was coolness personified as he advanced, then slotted wide of the advacing Lehmann. 1-1 and the minute Tico’s following in the crowd were now being heard.
Germany again took control of the possession, and were given room to attack down both flanks, with Lahm & Schweinsteiger busy down the left, and Schneider dangerous wide right. It was from Schneider that the second came. He received the ball out wide and was ushered towards the right corner where he had time to pick his pass to an alert Schweinsteiger, whose direct run into the box and cross-shot allowed an easy tap in for Klose.
Germany, now fully in command, bossed the rest of the half without creating anything clear cut, although both Podolski and frings tested out the wobbly ball from distance. The German defence when on the back foot did look decidedly dodgy, and they were lucky to get a linesmans flag when Wanchope was again through on goal. Surely Guimares would change things in the second half.
The second period began with more of the same. Podolski went close from the edge of the box in the first minute and set the tone for German dominance. Their midfield continued to roam almost unmolested, with Borowski & Frings becoming more involved, and Schweinsteiger providing real quality & vision.
The third goal came on the hour from a fine move down the left where Schweinsteiger fed Lahm whose deflected cross left Marin, who had been easily Costa Rica’s best defender, for once flat footed. Klose rose unchallenged to send a header seemingly goalward. A fine save by Porras only delayed the inevitable as Klose emphatically dispatched the rebound.
The crowd now seemed to start enjoying the occasion as much as the German players, and Lahm again caused problems down the left. Klinsmann saw the chance to rest some of his players, and started to make substitutions, Kehl on for Borowski.
Suddenly, against the run of play a precision pass by Centeno unlocked the German defence, and Wanchope galloped through the gaping hole to put Costa Rica back in with a shout. Wanchope’s finish was precision itself with the outside of his right boot. Lehmann stood bemused, as he’d not yet had to make a save, but had let in two goals.
The expected grandstand finish never came. Costa Rica never really seemed to have the conviction to get at Germany and cause an upset.
The points were secured in the 87th minute by Frings with an absolute pearl of a strike from all of 30 yards, curling away from a desperate Porras into his top left corner. A fitting end to any game, and one which may not be bettered throughout this tournament.
Final score: Germany 4 Costa Rica 2