Germany’s youngest World Cup squad in 76 years began its 2010 campaign with a 4-0 rout of the soccer tournament’s second-oldest team.
Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Mueller and Cacau got the goals last night for the three-time world champion against Australia in Durban, South Africa. It was the biggest win in the tournament’s opening seven games and put Germany on top of its group.
“We’re a young team, but we have a lot of high quality,” Germany captain Philipp Lahm, 26, said in an interview. “It’s very important for us to get in the next round so it was important to start with a victory.”
Germany coach Joachim Loew, missing injured players including captain Michael Ballack and first-choice goalkeeper Rene Adler, has assembled Germany’s youngest World Cup squad since 1934, with an average age of 24.9. Only North Korea and Ghana have younger rosters among the 32 competing teams.
Having such a young group may be to the team’s advantage, according to former Germany striker Oliver Bierhoff.
“They are very interesting young players,” Bierhoff said in an interview. “They have a lot of experience from the Bundesliga and also from the under-21 championships so I think they are ready to play this big tournament.”
Australia, by contrast, arrived at the World Cup with a squad whose average age is 28.4, tying England for the second eldest. Brazil has the oldest collection of players in South Africa with an average age of 28.6.
World Cup Experience
Eight of the 11 Socceroo starters last night featured in Australia’s last World Cup game in 2006, a 1-0 second-round loss to eventual champion Italy. Four years on, they struggled against the pace of the Germans, who regularly tried to play passes in behind a defense featuring 34-year-olds Craig Moore and Scott Chipperfield and captain Lucas Neill, 32.
“We didn’t really control the midfield,” Chipperfield said in an interview. “It allowed them time on the ball to play it in behind us. Defensively it makes it hard for you when players have got time in the middle. They have good movement and are a very good side.”
Mueller raced in behind the Australian rearguard to set up the opening goal in the eighth minute. The midfielder played the ball across the penalty area and Podolski hit a first-time shot that goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer couldn’t keep out.
Schwarzer, 37, allowed Klose to beat him to a cross to head the second goal and Germany twice sliced through the Australian defense to score in the second half after Socceroos forward Tim Cahill received a straight red card for a tackle on Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 56th minute.
The victory gave Germany, seeking its first World Cup title since 1990, the Group D lead on goal difference over Ghana, which earlier beat Serbia 1-0.
“We’re a young team,” Klose said. “We love playing.”