Feature: Ghana versus Germany, a World Cup game of hearts

Germany vs. Ghana, a game of hearts

Andre Ayew rises above Germany’s defenders to score Ghana’s equaliser

By Chris Jones, ESPN

It ended, unfortunately but perhaps appropriately, with two men flat on their backs, one German, one Ghanaian. In a last desperate lunge for the winner, Thomas Muller’s head found John Boye’s shoulder rather than the curling ball. They each fell to the grass, and they were still there when the final whistle blew — a double knockdown to conclude a 2-2 draw.

What an incredible, exhilarating, chest-searing game. In one of the World Cup’s most difficult groups, it had meaning from the beginning. The first half showed it, the Ghanaians trying to match the Germans in their famous discipline. The match wasn’t tentative so much as it was deliberate, careful if not cautious. Then the night turned, and in a tournament that has already treated us to so much high art, we watched one of the great halves of football unfold.

- Group permutations

Whom to root for? The Germans, who had been so ruthless against Portugal in their opener, one of the game’s most fearsome machines running at full power? Or the Ghanaians and their giant-size spirits, now fighting to keep their slim hopes alive? It presented an especially tough choice for American fans. For them, a Ghanaian win was the worst possible result. But some games are so good that such cool math somehow feels like an unwelcome guest.

The Germans were the first to break through in the 51st minute, and it felt as though they should. Mario Gotze headed home a long cross from the right by Muller, and the big screens inside the suddenly shaking Estadio Castelao showed the twisted face of a single German fan: He looked almost sick with relief.

That was the last respite. Ghana fought back only three minutes later when Andre Ayew scored an almost identical goal to the German one, this time on a cross from Harrison Afful. We’ve seen a few memorable goals like that here in Brazil — long, swinging crosses from the right met by a player approaching from the left: Mario Balotelli’s header against England; Tim Cahill’s spectacular goal against the Dutch. Now there were two more of them in the span of a few frantic seconds, and rather than cancel each other out, they served as multipliers.

The game went ballistic — “a terrible pace,” Joachim Low called it after — the first half’s steadiness making way for a beautiful frenzy. The Ghanaians improbably, spectacularly went ahead in the 63rd minute, another long feed finished with perfection by Asamoah Gyan into the far side of the goal. The roaring crowd was consumed then with all manner of frantic calculus. Could the bad-luck Black Stars really beat the Germans? Would a two-win team in Group G still find themselves knocked out? Football is at its best when it provides no easy answers, and now it was leaving the bottom of the page dead blank.

This has become something of a troubling pattern for the Germans. They’ve scored at least four goals in their opening game in each of the past four World Cups. But they have struggled in the games that have come next. Going back to 1994, they now have only a single win, a loss and four draws in their second efforts. The Germans have many gifts, but among them has been their ability to take seemingly simple equations and make them complicated.

Here they did it once again, equalizing in the 71st minute, Miroslav Klose scoring his 15th World Cup goal, tying him with Brazil’s Ronaldo for the most all time. Only in a game such as this one could a historic achievement feel like a kind of remainder, lost in the mess and the rush. For 23 more unbelievable minutes the game and Group G were split wide open. This game forced all of us to live in the present.

Low was asked what it was like for him to watch best-laid plans go loose like that: Is it fun or is it hell?

“It’s both,” he said. “For a manager, it is just like the spectators. … It’s sheer drama. You felt that.”

We all did. That’s what happened in Fortaleza on Saturday afternoon: An intellectual exercise became a more purely physical one. Logic made way for emotion, and certainty was substituted for doubt. Maybe it’s not that the Germans fail to show up to their second games, but their more desperate opponents do, and nobody wins and yet everybody does when this game of heads suddenly becomes one of hearts.

READERS COMMENTS

  1. NONI(9JA/GH 1ST SON) says:

    Many will be surprised why the addition of GH to my name… I love identifying with the best and GHANA has proven to be one of the best teams in BRAZIL 2014 but its so unfortunate they are in a such an odoriferous saga- kumgagatuangaga…. I will love to have GHANA join NAIJA in the round of 16 cos both sides are unarguably the best in AFRICA & can hand the title to mama Africa….. GHANA we are praying for you all down here in NAIJA. . You can make it….. #TeamWestAfrica

  2. NONI(9JA/GH 1ST SON) says:

    Many will be surprised why the addition of GH to my name… I love identifying with the best and GHANA has proven to be one of the best teams in BRAZIL 2014 but its so unfortunate they are in a such an odoriferous saga- kumgagatuangaga…. I will love to have GHANA join NAIJA in the round of 16 cos both sides are unarguably the best in AFRICA & can hand the title to mama Africa….. GHANA we are praying for you all down here in NAIJA. . You can make it….. #TeamWestAfrica ………

  3. The truth says:

    Ghana is coming home.Appiah has broken my heart.

  4. kuukuphilly says:

    Calm down Charley i feel Ur pain because Germany could had easily fell in the l’ost Colum as well.lack of concentration cost us another game
    .keep Hope alive.

  5. keith from germany says:

    ghana will qualify with four points just
    like in 2010 where ghana also had 4 points to advance.
    portugal will beat usa. and then its show down between ghana n portugal.
    sometimes one has to go the hard way to achieve his success

  6. The truth says:

    Ghsoccernet ass holes,why is my comments waiting moderation.Is because I wrote that Ghana is coming home.Sorry,Ghana is no more coming home they live in Brazil forever.

  7. piwi says:

    Keith ir Kate or what ever you call yourself,I will flog you very well if we do not qualify.

  8. Kweku Ananse says:

    I hope Jordan Ayew is watching the Belgium-Russia match to see how Hazard laid out the pass to his teammate Origi to score

    The win became a German win and Not Origi glory. Like Asamoah Gyan, who incidentally lost the opportunity to score from Jordan’s mishap, winning personal honor is dangerously becoming a serious concern.

    Jordan has poor shots at goal yet he’s so consumed to attempt to score perhaps to enhance his market value.

    Soccer is a team sport and therefore team selection must be based on other attributes other than individual skills.

    Playing in Europe is a plus but some of us are wondering if the likes of Augustine Okrahs (currently Ghana’s golden boot winner), could not have performed better.

    I may not have the facts to prove but I’m confident Coach Appiah is projecting Jordan to please Abedi Pele who declared his open wrath to the coach sometime ago.

    Jordan is indeed overrated and lacks the maturity to compete at this level where rare attributes are needed.

    All said, whether Ghana qualifies or not, most Ghanaians will continue to blame the coach whose poor judgment and bankrupt in tactical knowledge accounted for leaving behind such quality of talents behind in his naked arrogance and unflagging desire to favor some players at the expense of a whole nation heart.

  9. wofa yaw says:

    OH KWEKU ANANSE! PLEASE STOP YOUR ANANSE STORIES. GROW UP. . WATCH THE BALL WITH YOUR HEAD NOT YOUR HEART. HATRED IS A POISON THAT WOULD KILL YOU. JORDAN IS THE FUTURE OF GHANA SOCCER. SELFISHNESS IS GOOD FOR A STRIKER. DONT YOU MAKE MISTAKES? CHECK THE NUMBER OF MISTAKES THAT HAS BEEN MADE IN THIS WORLD CUP.