Schweinsteiger rallies Klinsmann's fractious fighting force
Bastian Schweinsteiger was said to have bad boy potential after being discovered by Bayern Munich officials keeping company with his girlfriend in the whirlpool of the club's training ground.
He said he was merely cementing a relationship.
Yesterday, he was at it again at the dawn of the 18th World Cup. Cementing a relationship, that is. This time, though, it was with the entire German nation.
Though his much more experienced team-mate, Miroslav Klose, did most to relieve the pressure on the embattled coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, with two well-taken goals, it was the 21-year-old midfielder who most perfectly expressed the philosophy of the former German hero.
Maybe the least rated German team in a long history of extraordinary achievement, Klinsmann's men showed they areprepared to slave their way to an eighth World Cup final. However, if the work rate was established in the first 17 minutes - which saw three goals, one from the enigmatic former Premiership star Paulo Wanchope which gave Costa Rica a foothold in the game - there was a worrying shortfall in class and authority.
When the full-back Philipp Lahm smashed in an early goal, Klinsmann embraced Michael Ballack, who is said to be angry over the decision to leave him out while awaiting full fitness.
Ballack responded warmly enough as the Munich crowd sensedGermany may just have found another relentless fighting force. That happy thought, though, was somewhat reduced by the unwillingness of the skilful Costa Ricans to go quietly.
Another Wanchope goal in the second half brought the furrows back to Klinsmann's brow, but the Germans are nothing if not totally committed and Schweinsteiger was always at the heart of the action.
He accepted the responsibility created by Ballack's absence and there were times when the Germans indeed looked likely to find some early and convincing rhythm. That hope, though, was damaged by the ease with which Wanchope again outwitted the German defensive lines. With England possible opponents in the second round, the Germans need to work on defensive security and a lighter and more sophisticated touch.
In the end, there was a considerable gap between effort and execution. But then, no doubt Klinsmann was encouraged by the fact his players seemed willing to run endlessly on behalf of the fatherland.
Certainly, though, the concern that Wanchope would again produce a cutting edge was not dispelled by a tide of pressure laid down as the second half wore on. Germany faced the nightmare of an imploding team after spending €5bn (£3.55m) on making this the most spectacular and efficient World Cup of them all.
It is a perilous ambition without a contented team. The worst fears, however, were eased with a superb drive by the midfielder Torsten Frings. That made the game safe.
Klinsmann and Ballack embraced again and the suspicion must be that, for the next few weeks, German ambitions will be as concentrated and united as ever in the 52 years that have followed their first stunning success.
They are a team who believe they will always find a way.
Latest in Sport
Kevin Garside: Manchester United may have history and tradition but, as David Moyes never realised, a big-time manager always bends such things to his will
Louis van Gaal denies problem with Wilfried Zaha despite Manchester United forward being given no game time
Manchester United latest: Angel Di Maria move no closer as Juan Mata emerges as Louis van Gaal's favoured No 10 as prospect of signing
Arsenal transfer news: Versatile Calum Chambers is a 'gamble', admits Arsene Wenger as Arsenal spending passes £50m
Tour de France 2014: Vincenzo Nibali confirmed as champion as he puts Italy back on the map with triumph
- 1 Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’
- 5 The Simpsons Family Guy trailer: First look at crossover episode after Comic-Con debut
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc