BANGALORE: The temperature at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza hovered between 29 to 30 degrees Celsius. While it suited Ghana, it was rather uncomfortable for Germany. However, the 2-2 draw earned both some valuable points. Not so much for Ghana as for Germany as they continued their unbeaten spell. And with a game in hand against USA, they could still top the group and make it to round of 16.
Ghana, with slim hopes of qualifying, now have to contend with the wounded Portugal, in more ways than one.
Yet, the draw was in effect, not a fair index of the proceedings. It might have been flattering for the African nation and their supporters. But Germany, for the best part of the game, played second fiddle. They rarely pressed the accelerator and moved about with a certain amount of casualness that was unmistakable.
It, at times, bordered on arrogance. Especially when Mesut Ozil had the ball at his feet. The Arsenal midfielder is a moody customer and can use the outside and inside of either foot to pry open any defence and set up scoring chances for his teammates. He did that a couple of times against Ghana too. But not to the extent he is capable of.
On at least two occasions, he himself could have finished but he chose to overdo the passing bit and allowed Ghana to scramble the ball to safety.
There was no mistaking the German dominance. Yes, Ghana did put up a spirited display in all areas. Yet, they never had control of the proceedings as much as Germany had. This became more evident in the second half as Germany coach Joachim Loew introduced forward Miroslav Klose and midfielder Bastian Schwenstiger.
In almost an instant, Germany seemed overwhelmingly superior and pushed Ghana deep into their own half. Half chances went abegging by the dozens. This eventually saw Thomas Muller suffering a gash across his face in a scramble for the ball inside the Ghanaian half. Germany are improving as they progress and only half their potential has been on display.
Meanwhile in Group F, Iran put up dogged resistance against Argentina. Their hard physical game saw star striker Lionel Messi withdraw into a shell.
He was just a mere spectator for the major part until he unleashed his magic in the first minute of added time in the second half and rifled home the winner. The 1-0 result in favour of Argentina brought back memories of a similar scoreline. The Argentine team which won the 1986 Nehru Cup in Mexico used the 1984 Nehru Cup in Calcutta as a preparatory exercise. Except for Diego Maradona, virtually the rest of the team were present under Carlos Bilardo. That team beat India, yes India, 1-0 with a goal in the 88th minute.
While Germany conserved themselves, Argentina were forced to go flat out.