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The Soccer World Cup Opening Game – Germany v Costa Rica Match Report
The first game of this year’s FIFA World Cup surpassed all previous opening day games, which are often warm and tedious, to deliver a truly memorable match. The long-awaited 2006 FIFA World Cup kicked off on a balmy Munich evening with an enthusiastic but subdued home crowd.
Germany, efficient in their approach, perhaps epitomized by their typically efficient German coach Jurgen Klinsmann, fielded a regimented 4-4-2 formation, perhaps trusting experience rather than real effort. Notably missing from their side was Michael Ballack, who will make the team stronger when he returns from injury later in the tournament.
Formation of Costa Rica? Your guess might be as good as mine if you’re going for something like 3-6-1. Amazing choice of coach Alexander Guimarez.
It was clear that the crowd felt much more than the participants as both sides showed attacking intent right from the whistle.
Centeno showed good control of the ball and burst forward straight through the center of the German midfield in the first minute, only to be illegally stopped by Frings, who was quick to spot the danger. Nothing happened from the free kick.
Frings then appeared at the other end moments later and tested Costa Rica keeper Porros with a long range shot. Poros struggled to get through his own goal to get closer to the ball, possibly indicating he was wary of the new official ball being used by FIFA for this tournament. It appears to be traveling through the air on an irregular flight path.
The German midfield began to take control of the game, seemingly giving the outnumbered Costa Ricans space to play, and after just 5 minutes the deadlock was broken. Costa Rica failed to clear the ball from the edge of their own penalty area and the ball fell to diminutive full-back Lam on the left flank. Lahm cut in quickly from the right and fired a powerful right-footed shot from the corner of the box that curled into the top left corner of the keeper and hit the post.
What a goal to open the World Cup.
Germany now took complete control of the game, with their four midfielders keeping the ball well and looking to create opportunities for another goal. Schweinsteiger, now given too much space to express himself on the left, headed the ball inside Klose, who eluded his marker, but Poros quickly raced off his line to contain him.
Then, out of nowhere, the German back four were caught hopelessly flat-footed by a Costa Rican one-two. Wanchoppe dismissed Centen, who in return split the German defense wide with his superbly weighted ball, while Friedrich was pulled three yards the wrong way. Wanchop was the epitome of cool as he moved forward and then pulled away from the onrushing Lehmann. 1-1 and Thicke’s minute in the crowd was now audible.
Germany regained control of possession and were given space to attack on both flanks, with Lahm and Schweinsteiger busy on the left and Schneider dangerous on the right. It was from Schneider that the second came. He received the ball wide of the ball and was headed into the right corner, where he had time to make a pass to an alert Schweinsteiger, whose direct run into the box and cross allowed Klose to tap in easily.
Germany, now fully in possession, dominated the rest of the half without creating anything of substance, although both Podolski and Frings tried a wobbly ball from distance. The German defence, when on the back foot, did look distinctly sloppy and they were lucky to get the linesmen’s flag when Wanchoppe shot through on goal again. Guimaraes would certainly change things in the second half.
The second period started the same way. Already in the first minute, Podolski went close from the edge of the penalty area and set the tone for the German advantage. Their midfield continued to roam almost unhindered, with Borowski and Fring increasingly involved and Schweinsteiger providing real quality and vision.
The third goal came on the hour mark after a good move down the left saw Schweinsteiger feed Lamm, whose deflected cross left Marino, easily Costa Rica’s best defender, off his feet for one. Klose rose unchallenged and headed it seemingly towards goal. A fine save from Poros only delayed the inevitable as Klose emphatically converted the rebound.
The crowd seemed to be enjoying the occasion as much as the German players and Lahm again caused problems down the left. Klinsmann saw a chance to rest some of his players and began to make substitutions, with Kehl in place of Borowski.
Suddenly, against the run of play, Centen’s pinpoint pass unlocked the German defense and Vanchoppe galloped through a gaping hole to put Costa Rica back with a screamer. Wanchope’s finish was the exact outside of the right boot. Lehmann stood there embarrassed, as he had yet to make a save, but he scored two goals.
The expected finish on the stands never happened. Costa Rica never seemed to have the conviction to get to Germany and cause an upset.
The points were secured in the 87th minute by Frings with an absolute gem from all of 30 yards, curling away from a desperate Poros into his top left corner. A fitting end to any game that couldn’t be better during this tournament.
Final score: Germany 4 Costa Rica 2.
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