20-year-old Keeper Saves Messi Penalty
|Holger Badstuber attempts to stop Messi.|
Just two years ago, Germany pummeled Maradona's Argentine team, winning 4-0 with a Klose double in the quarter finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was interesting to see these accomplished national teams go head-to-head after so many changes through the years. Germany's performance in the Euro was their usual runner-up finish. Though Die Mannschaft did not disappoint today, they are always shy of finishing first. The Argentine team's level of physical fitness was clearly higher. With the exception of Germany's Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil, players like Messi, Di Maria, and Higuain have had more pre-season training opportunities. Barcelona has played against various European clubs, including PSG and Manchester United, while Real Madrid traveled the States for the World Football Challenge, facing off against MLS and Liga Mexicana teams as well as Serie A club AC Milan. The Argentine side includes two players from Barcelona, two from Madrid, two from Manchester City, and one from Paris Saint-Germain.
Argentine hopes were marred when Gonzalo Higuain suffered a head injury early on, and the German side had a clear advantage at the beginning of the game. However, Argentina took over possession pretty soon, taking over Germany's box on multiple occasions. Things took a turn for the worse for Die Mannschaft when keeper Ron-Robert Zieler was sent off; he went for the ball hands-first, colliding with Jose Ernesto Sosa. The referee interpreted the moment as an intentional foul and gave a penalty to the guest team. The Germans were forced to sub out an on-field player for another keeper, and Marc-André ter Stegen came on instead of midfielder Thomas Müller. Leo Messi came up to take the shot, but his attempt to fool the 20-year-old Borussia keeper backfired; he visibly halted before shooting, and Stegen took the ball. Messi attempted to storm the net before half-time once more, but he won't be fooling Stegen anytime soon. Germany captain Klose missed out on a brilliant opportunity after getting the ball from Reus. A counter provided by Howedes was cut short by the German defense, forcing the Argentine side to build up their attack from scratch. A corner taken by Di Maria in added time ricocheted off of Real Madrid's Sami Khedira, resulting in an unfortunate own goal and ending the first half on a dramatic note.
|Marc-André ter Stegen saves Leo Messi's penalty.|
The game's tempo definitely quickened as both sides became more eager to score. The Germans had a fantastic opportunity on the 50th minute, and the resulting goal was disallowed for an offside. But the 10-man Germany had more challenges to face. Gonzalo Higuain made a brilliant run on the left flank on the 52nd minute and passed to Messi, who made up for his failed penalty by scoring. Higuain had a shot himself, but it went just shy of the crossbar. Unlike Messi, Germany's Khedira couldn't redeem himself for the own goal incident and missed the Argentine net. Argentina was on the attack, and Leo Messi had a slew of missed chances. He couldn't make use of Boateng's defensive mishap and Gonzalo Higuain's beautiful backheel flick, and though he managed to shoot the ball past Stegen, the ball went wide just 5 meters away from the net. A controversial situation arose on the 67th minute when an Argentine slid into a German player in the box. Instead of giving a penalty, the referee called for a corner. Though neither player was a keeper, the situation was similar to Zieler's supposed foul. Sergio Romero was a solid keeper for the Argentine team and apprehended the German attempt that followed. A Barcelona and Madrid player worked together on the 73rd minute to produce a wonderful goal. Leo Messi got the ball to Angel Di Maria, who scored a goal in the far post from about 31 meters away. Another goal-scoring opportunity came soon after when Messi's attempt from inside the box on the 76th minute ricocheted off the post. Germany tried desperately to take back the initiative, with Hummels performing an unsuccesful header. Joachim Loew's team finally got a ball in on the 82nd minute. A great delivery by Götze led to a leap and a header by Howedes, who scored his first goal for the German National Team. Gonzalo Higuain stayed strong for the Argentine team, and his attempt on the 86th miniute went off the post. An amusing situation occurred when a fan ran out onto the pitch to greet his idol, the famous Lionel Messi. After bidding farewell, the fan calmly ran off the pitch and allowed himself to be escorted out by security. Needless to say, Leo was highly amused.
Though the match was marred by refereeing errors, it had its share of comedy and drama.
|Messi with the lucky fan.|
Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 2:45PM (EST)
Germany vs. Argentina - 1:3 (0:1)
Arena: Commerzbank-Arena (Frankfurt, Germany)
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)
0:1 Sami Khedira (Own Goal) ('46)0:2 Lionel Messi (Asst. Gonzalo Higuain) ('52)
0:3 Angel Di Maria (Asst. Lionel Messi) ('73)
1:3 Benedikt Howedes ('82)