World Cup 2010 Comment: Serbia Bring Germany Back Down To Earth’s KS Leong takes a look at how another one of the big boys took a tumble.

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Germany were one of the best performers in the first round of group matches, handily dispatching Australia 4-0, the only side to score more than two goals in a game in the opening fixtures.

But that thumping win against a woeful Socceroos has turned out to be a facade as Joachim Loew’s men looked ordinary against a sharper Serbian side.

Germany kept it tidy and steady, patiently building up from the back and slipping through balls down the middle whenever the tiniest of gaps appeared, just like they did against Australia. Only difference is, the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Neven Subotic and Branislav Ivanovic weren’t caught square and they were all alert and quick in stepping up to cut out the threat.

Germany’s two midfield combo meanwhile, Thomas Mueller and Mesut Oezil, two of the best players from Day One, looked short of inventive ideas to pry open a disciplined opposition backfour.

Wily veteran coach Radomir Antic set up his Serbian outfit perfectly, exploring the wings to catch out the inexperienced Holger Badstuber and the often over-adventurous Philipp Lahm.

But a lot will be put down to card-happy referee Undiano Mallenco, who turned the game on its head when he sent off Miroslav Klose in the 37th minute.

The Germans still looked rattled when a mere minute later, Milos Krasic bombarded down the right flank to whip in a cross which Nikola Zigic outjumped two defenders, and nodded the ball down to a completely unmarked Milan Jovanovic, who was afforded all the time in the world to chest it down and volley it in with an acrobatic effort.

As much as Senor Mallenco may have spoiled the game with his flurry of yellow cards and the single red, Germany can’t put all the blame on the referee.

Even with 11 on the pitch, the Germans created precious little infront of goal. Their best chance, in fact, came right at the end of the first half when they were down to ten as Sami Khedira rattled the bar with a thunderous half-volley.

Die Mannschaft ironically looked more dangerous and vibrant in attack after Klose’s dismissal and they certainly had more urgency in the second half when they trudged back out from the dressing room staring down the barrel of a shock defeat.

Lukas Podolski, who had to assume the lead striker role, could have had a hat-trick in the first 15 minutes of the restart, pulling two ferocious shots wide before seeing a tame penalty parried away by Vladimir Stojkovic.

How extremely un-German that Germany should lose a game because of sloppy defending and an unconverted penalty.

Serbia, despite having one extra man on the pitch, completely took their foot off the gas in the second period and even on counter-attacks, they didn’t appear interested in getting a second goal.

But the Nationalelf, without Klose to aim for in the box and without his aerial threat, were unable to take advantage even though they spent most if not all of the remainder of the game inside the Serbian half. It simply wasn’t Germany’s day.

There will be a lot of talking points from this game for the weekend barbeque. Simple, straightforward challenges to win the ball back were pulled up for a foul and a booking; Klose’s sending off which led to Serbia’s winner; and a penalty which Germany failed to put into the back of the net.

With Spain, France and Germany all losing three days in a row, the 2010 World Cup has now well and truly kick-started to life. Finally... something to talk about other than vuvuzelas.

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