Tim Cahill, Australia’s only world class player, summed this one up neatly before the game: "Germany are always there or thereabouts, we know how good they are."
An hour after the big World Cup kick-off for Durban’s magnificent Moses Mabhida Stadium, Germany were cruising at 2-0 up and Everton’s gritty Australian had been sent off.
In the opening Group D match at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld rugby stadium, Ghana saw off Serbia thanks to a late penalty. But Germany, despite fears about their goalkeeper and the form of their strikers, were far more impressive.
The Group of Death seemed to breathe fresh life in to struggling Bayern Munich pair Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski – and the Germans appeared to relish playing without their skipper Michael Ballack, injured during Chelsea’s FA Cup final triumph over Portsmouth last month.
It’s not that the Aussies are a poor side – they threatened frequently – it’s that the Germans looked so lethal coming forward. The nation who perfected the BlitzKrieg assault on the defenceless 70 years ago had 12 shots on goal before adding their third and fourth goals broke Socceroo hearts in the 68th and 69th minutes. Slaughter.
Could it be an age thing? Australia started the game with an average age of 31 years and 118 days; Germany 25 years and 76 days. This is their youngest World Cup squad since 1934.
It showed. Durban waited just eight minutes for their first World Cup goal when Germany went ahead through Podolski – who scored just three goals all season – and Klose made it two with his third of the season in the 27th minute.
The second half goals came from Thomas Muller and Brazilian-born Cacau after Cahill had been sent off for a lunge at Bastian Schweinsteiger. Routine German performance. Efficient, merciless. And we needed a bit of a goal glut after seeing just eight goals in the first six games.
My day was spent largely on the road to distant Polokwane in the far north of this fabulous country. A six hour drive saw another goalkeeping blunder... you can learn all you need to know by watching http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKuXMoitNg4.
Slovenia ended up beating Algeria 1-0 to go top of Group C after the USA’s highly-fortunate draw with England last night. But given what I witnessed today, neither of these two teams will threaten the big guns. I hope.
Problem is the runners-up in Group C play the top team in Group D. And given Germany’s form tonight against Australia, that may be a difficult game in Bloemfontein on June 27.
Group C’s table-toppers will probably play Ghana back in Phokeng’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 26. I’m rather hoping that might be England. But at this gloriously unpredictable World Cup, who can tell?
What we can say without threat of contradiction is that the first three days have gone well for South Africa. Six superb venues, six perfect pitches, four sell-outs. Can’t host a World Cup in Africa? Oh yes they can.
Neal Collins (nealcol on Twitter) is in South Africa promoting his first novel A GAME APART, the book you must read to understand the importance of this World Cup. For more details, see http://www.nealcollins.co.uk.