June 8, 2008

1939 all over again

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

They say that Germany hasn’t had home-field advantage in Austria for at least 60 years, after watching their match with Poland yesterday, you would think otherwise. Ze Germans exploited the Poles lack of speed — rather, pace — in their defence core and ran by them on several occasions on passing balls. Poland’s two centre backs, who are a combined 67 years old, could not keep up and played what looked like a poorly set offside trap on several occasions. You will hear arguments that the Germans first goal should have been waved off due to offside, but it looked clean to Running The Point. You could also argue that the Poles outscored the Germans, after all, Lukas Podolski — scorer of both goals — was born in Poland (as is teammate Miroslav Klose).

After watching large portions of Sunday’s first game, Croatia 1, Austria 0, one of three potential lesson should have been learned. Austria is either a bit better than I anticipated, Croatia is a bit worse or Austria’s home field advantage matters. Sure, the Croats jumped out to an early lead and did hold off the Austrians, but I didn’t see too many chances out there for them against an “inferior opponent.” Austria had many chances to tie up the game throughout but just couldn’t capitalize on some good opportunities. And we should all remember to never count out a tournament’s host. Germany “over-achieved” at World Cup 06, South Korea and Japan both capitalized in 2002 and Portugal made it to the Euro finals in 2004. It might not be a stretch to see either the Swiss or Austrians advance.

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