Even Germany are not free of the curse of the World Cup super power, or so it seems.
With Spain, England and Italy already licking their wounds after disappointing tournaments here in Brazil, Germany had seemed set for a stroll in to the last sixteen after their dismantling of Portugal in their opening game.
However, the 2010 semi-finalists survived an almighty scare against Ghana last night as they came from behind in a sensational second half to grab a vital point.
Having dominated much of the first half, Germany looked as though they would ease to victory when Mario Gotze headed them in to the lead from a Thomas Muller cross in the 51st minute.
However two goals in quick succession from Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan set the favourites back on their heels and in a rousing finish it took World Cup veteran Miroslav Klose – on as a substitute – to save them with his very first touch with 20 minutes left.
The fifteenth World Cup goal of his career, Klose now needs one more to become the competition’s all-time leading scorer. He currently shares the record with Brazilian legend Ronaldo but last night’s goal was perhaps more important to Germany than it is even to him.
While some of the world’s heavywights have struggled to impose themselves on this World Cup, Germany did seem to have fitted seamlessly in to life in Brazil.
Their opening win over Portugal was certainly aided by a dreadful performance from their opposition but nevertheless Joachim Loew’s team do look as they have arrived in South America primed for business.
In the first half in Fortaleza tonight, they were certainly the better team. How they didn’t have the lead at the interval perhaps even they didn’t know.
Fielding the same team that beat Portugal, Germany’s midfield was in imperious form during the first half early on with Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil finally finding his way in to the tournament with some astute passing. Indeed the former Real Madrid midfielder was involved in much of what Germany did well tonight.
Ghana were not without ambition and they created some chances, too. The African team did, however, spend an awful lot of time without the ball.
Theirs was the first chance as it happened as Asamoah Gyan volleyed a cross from the dangerous Christian Atsu narrowly off target. Soon after it was Atsu who worried Manuel Neuer in the German goal with a shot from distance but from that point on Germany were the dominant force.
At times the understanding in the German midfield seemed almost intuitive and they also scored a super goal in the eleventh minute as a Thomas Muller back heel gave Toni Kroos the chance to shot. The ball may have found the corner, too, had it not struck a defender’s shin.
Kroos and Ozil were combining very well as the half progressed and the two of them created an opening for Sami Khedira in the 18th minute only for the goalkeeper to save. Ozil then crossed low from the right for Mueller who was denied by a tackle from John Boye.
Momentum was certainly building for Germany but for a while they couldn’t break through. Kroos shot over from distance and then Ozil chipped a pass through for Goetze, whose volley found the goalkeeper’s midriff.