European Axis, game
Just watched the Italy-Germany game on the DVR. The result was fairly disappointing, but it was quite a good game. Germany dominated play for most of the game, but two bad defensive breakdowns on counterattacks gave Balotelli, and Italy, all the openings it needed. Last game, Balotelli got lots of chances, but couldn't convert. This time he only had a few chances, but he buried two of them. The first involved a relatively innocuous cross that the defender, mysteriously, failed to even make a play on. That left Super Mario uncontested in the air from about six or eight yards out; he didn't hit it very hard, but the goalie still didn't have a chance. The second was on a long through-ball where Mario got ten yards behind the defenders while the ball was in the air. They tried to catch up, but he got the shot off before they could even try to contest it, and it hit the back of the net right at the side netting (a very pretty shot). Again, no chance for the keeper. I'd like to say that, from there, it was all Germany attacking, but that stopped being the case with ten or fifteen minutes left. At that point, the Germans were pushing forward so hard that they left huge, gaping holes in the back. It was rather surprising that it didn't end up with a much larger margin, thanks to that. Germany did manage to get one back in stoppage time, when a hand ball in the box was called, and Oezil converted the penalty kick. But that was all they had; they really didn't get many good chances. They just didn't show any real ability to get possession in the box against Italy. Oezil had one nice drive to the side of the net, but he couldn't get it to a teammate facing the net. Other than that, it was pretty much all long shots, with one or two closer ones that came off of deflected passes (and were not sitting at the right spot for kicking). It was a disappointing performance for Germany. I thought they looked good in the midfield, but just couldn't penetrate at all. Oh, and their corner kicks were awful. I don't think a single one of them gave a decent scoring change. Thinking about it, they did have one nice chance on a set piece from twenty-two yards out, but Buffon made a very good save on Reus' shot. The one good thing about the game was that it was good to see a game not end up one-nil (or won on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw). It was actually a pretty exciting game, especially the first ten or fifteen minutes of the second half when Germany was driving the play and keeping Italy back on their heels. But it still leaves us with Spain and Italy. I'm not sure what to cheer for; maybe I'll just cheer for Balotelli and a good game. But I suspect it'll be pretty boring, with Spain passing all around Italy and the Romans mounting the odd counterattack. We'll see.