Both of today’s encounters were much anticipated as all four countries are bastions of footballing fervor, whose teams were eager to prove they had the talent to go far in this year’s World Cup.
The England-Germany rivalry is much documented, its apex being England’s controversial 4-2 victory over West Germany in the World Cup final at Wembley Stadium in 1966.
The Argentina-Mexico match was seen as an opportunity for an exciting young Mexican team—said to be the best Mexican side in a generation—to take on an Argentina side who, with all respect to South Korea, Greece, and Nigeria, were yet to prove themselves against a team of true quality.
Unfortunately, despite the prospect of a wonderful day of football, the refereeing once again took center stage.
The English met with early disappointment as the German side jumped out to a lead through a somewhat uncommon goal. German keeper Manuel Neuer earned himself an assist when he pumped the ball up field and over the head of England central defender John Terry.
Striker Miroslav Klose got hold of it and out-muscled Matt Upson to poke the ball past ‘keeper David James.
Podolski scored next for Germany and England were on the ropes. The English pulled one back through a header by Upson but then the talking point of the day took place.
Frank Lampard’s shot came off the crossbar and landed a good yard inside the German goal. But then it bounced out and of all the people watching around the world only the referee and his two accomplices missed what was clearly an England goal.
Certainly the tactics would have differed had the goal stood, but at the end of the day England were unworthy of a place on the field with Germany, who went on to win the match 4-1 on two additional goals by Muller. It was a deserved win for Germany, but the English should at least have had a second goal.
Mexico have a history of losing out to Argentina in recent World Cups and they were determined to prove their mettle against their South American opponents today.
But Argentina took control of the match with the help of blind refereeing. Tevez first goal was yards offside. The Mexicans protested to no avail.
Everyone in the stadium must have seen the replay on the big screen, including the ref no doubt. But he had no choice but to let the goal stand for Argentina.
Higuaín and Tevez got Argentina’s other goals, the former taking advantage of a calamitous error by Mexican defender Osorio, while Tevez’s second was a thing of beauty.
Mexico got one back through Manchester United-bound Javier Hernandez, but at the end of the day Argentina was simply too good for Mexico.
OK,…so two big games today were dominated by bad officiating. Video replays or other technologies such as electronic chips in the ball are available, yet FIFA’s position on using these tools for the benefit of the game is clear; they say no.
Why not? Is it because Sepp Blatter is a luddite?