Germans and a live game … both are awesome

Durban (South Africa) Stadium at sunset Sunday (June 13, 2010) night.

By CHRIS ZIEMER

(Editor’s note: Chris Ziemer, Sonoma Academy athletic director and head girls soccer coach, is blogging for The Press Democrat at the World Cup in South Africa).

(June 13, 2010)

Durban, South Africa —

My first live game in South Africa is a barnburner…

It’s 1:30 a.m. and I just returned from Germany’s masterful 4-0 win over Australia. Although I’ve been in South Africa about one full week, my World Cup officially started today.

There really is nothing like watching a live World Cup game. I attended the game with a South African colleague and we arrived early to soak it in.

The only negative from the night was the stadium lines were too long, but as it was their first game at Durban, I will cut them some slack.

Durban stadium ready for takeoff…

What a stadium. I’ve been to a few over the years and it is comparable to all the best.

FC Barcelona’s Nou Camp, Arsenal’s Highbury, Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. It is massive enough to seat 70,000 fans, yet it feels like every seat has a dream view (ours actually did).

Obviously, I got a bit caught up in the emotions of seeing my first World Cup game in South Africa, but the stadium invites that. It is clean, it glows in the night, and it has all of the trappings of a stadium built in the past year.

The sound and television system are first class allowing you to recapture highlights and feel the music and fans passion.
The fan areas with sponsors and VIP areas are spacious and well positioned and the concessions area efficiently designed as well.

Aussies dominate the crowd, Germans dominate the game…

Both countries had a large and spirited following on the night. As there were so many South Africans and other countries in attendance, it was hard to tell where the breakdown was until the introductions.

At that point, it was clear that about two-thirds of the fans were pulling for the Green & Gold.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have much to cheer about. Both sets of fans were spirited, with face painting, flags, vuvuzelas and wacky costumes that looked years in the planning.
Vuvuzelas live…

I brought my vuvuzela, but only used in during the pregame and after goals. While many used them the entire game, besides the ringing in my ears during the second half, it wasn’t annoying to those in the stadium.

The poor players, well, let’s just say it certainly effected the Aussies. I’m told the games with the majority of the fans from South Africa are much louder, although by no means did this game lack noise or atmosphere.

GERMANY!!!!!

I was proud to be part-German tonight.

I was rooting for the Germans, and had a touch of red & black to show my support. Nothing over the top, but enough to show my commitment.

It is hard to tell whether the result and performance was a sign of Germany’s strength, Australia’s weakness (they were bad) or a combination of both.

In all aspects of the game, Germany was brilliant, clearly outclassing Australia. Germany has always been known to perform in the big tournaments with their winning mentality and also have always been tactically sound.

What I didn’t expect was some of the individual brilliance and creativity. It dawned on me that their team is young, but most are playing big roles on major teams like Bayern Munich, and they used that confidence against an Australian team that looked like they were just happy to be in the Cup.

Stadium vs. FanPark experience…

Both were awesome, but the stadium experience allows you complete view of the game, vs. the FanPark experience in which the view is what the television crews decided to show.

It just can’t be compared, and on a night like tonight, being in the stadium and seeing Germany’s quality around the ball probably was something you picked up on TV, but their tactical discipline, movement off the ball and team shape was something you could pick up with a complete view of the field.

And, on the other hand, you could probably see the Australians lacked confidence under pressure, and failed to give options in their buildup, but even more shocking was to see their inability to adjust to their opponent as the game wore on.

Within a few minutes, it was clear to me that Germany would combine and exploit the Australian team. They pushed their defense high and invited the Germans to penetrate the wide areas and get in behind (and that they did), yet dropped off to condense the field and gave Germany acres of space and time to develop their attack (and they did).

The fact that Germany was so clinical in their finishing meant they scored 4 and had 8-10 other bonafide scoring chances which is unheard of at this level.

Pim Verbeek, their Dutch coach had no answer and failed to make any adjustments which stopped the early bleeding. The result was the game was never in doubt.

Anyway, enough analysis, but while watching the game at the FanPark allowed me to focus on being a fan, watching a game live with such a great view and two contrasting performances continually led you to both enjoy and analyze the game.

5 questions from the Germany game…

1 – Is Germany that good or Australia that bad?

Time will certainly tell…my gut tells me Germany is capable of doing damage and the Aussies will have an early exit.

2 – Was the first goal offsides?

It didn’t look like it live and I missed the replay, but several Aussie fans received texts from home saying it was. Had they not scored that one, the Aussies may have held tight for 2-3 more minutes before being scored upon, so if it was offsides, the Aussies should focus on their performance (or lack thereof) instead of worrying about the refereeing.

3 – Will all of the games be this amazing?

I certainly hope so, as my heart is still racing and the game ended over four hours ago.

4 – How did the vuvuzela sound at home?

I was there live and it was manageable. I will say the constant humming bird-like sound and a lackluster performance from

Australia mellowed a few fans. I’m going on limited sleep for six nights and I was pumped the entire game, but then again.

5 – What was German coach Joachim Low thinking?

Not sure if you caught it on TV, but he (and his poor staff), wore purple, skin-tight, long-sleeve shirts.

He looked like a cross between Barney and David Hasseloff. It was the only mistake the Germans made on the night.