German élan rewarded with medal
They call it the 'little final.'
It is the game no-one wants to play, which ironically means that it is the game that is usually the most entertaining. Statistics say that on average, the third-place game produces, four goals a game. Yesterday it produced five as Germany and Uruguay served up an absolute thriller as a prelude to the biggest show on earth.
The Germans won in an error-ridden but frankly brilliant game that oscillated between one side and another until Sami Khedira's looping header settled issues in the 83rd minute. Even then, Uruguay captain Diego Forlan nearly took the game into extra-time when his superb 93rd minute free-kick thundered off the bar with Hans-Jorg Butt beaten.
It would have been sweet justice for the underrated Forlan, whose inspirational performances have seen Uruguay scale the heights after a near 40-year absence. Forlan can perhaps lay claim to the Golden Ball as he has time and again bailed out the Uruguayans in this tournament and has been the backbone behind their strong showing.
As has Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Germany winger converted to central midfielder had a mixed game, but still proved the heartbeat of the side. Although it was his error that gave away the equaliser to Uruguay, it was also his shot that paved the way for young Thomas Mueller to give the Germans the lead.
And on the topic of Mueller, the Bayern Munich tyro is almost set to win the award for the best young player of the World Cup. His intelligence and fearlessness make him a sparkling player to watch and with five goals and three assists he has been directly involved in more goals than any other player in this World Cup.
The game itself was packed with entertainment as both sides looked to take the game to the opponents. Luis Suarez, roundly booed whenever he touched the ball, Forlan and Edinson Cavani formed a formidable strike-force and they constantly troubled the German backline missing captain Lahm.
But Germany were not to be outdone with Khedira, Mueller and Mesut Oezil in particular forming threatening combinations backed up by Schweinsteiger. Sadly, it was Cacau upfront trying to score, rather than Miroslav Klose. The Bayern Munich striker was aiming to unseat Ronaldo as the greatest scorer in World Cup history but a bad case of the flu put paid to his hopes.
In the end, it might be divine justice as Ronaldo is a player of a much higher calibre, than the humble Klose, although a return of fourteen goals from three World Cup's is as good as it gets. Fittingly, he remains tied with Gerd Mueller.
In the end, Germany's triumph will mean that the young team will go home with a medal for their exploits. The Germans have wowed with their superb football throughout the tournament, and their young team with an average age below 25 have a bright future ahead. Euro 2012 and the World Cup in Brazil beckons.