Germany thrash Argentina 4-0
Germany thrashed Argentina 4-0 with a sparkling display of attacking football on Saturday to book their spot in the World Cup last four.
A third minute goal from Thomas Mueller and two second half strikes from Miroslav Klose, making his 100th appearance for his country, and one from Arne Friedrich gave Germany a semi-final date with either Spain or Paraguay.
Germany beat Argentina on penalties at the same stage of the tournament in 2006.
The successive defeats of Argentina and Brazil led British bookies to make Germany, Spain and Netherlands joint favourites to win the tournament.
Image: Germany's players celebrate
Mueller gives Germany early lead
Germany got off to a dream start when midfielder Tomas Mueller snatched his fourth goal of the tournament, heading in a curled Schweinsteiger free kick after just three minutes.
"It's insane to beat Argentina 4-0. It's hard to find the words for a result like that," Mueller told German television after the match. "I think Germany is quaking right now and that's the right way to celebrate this."
Image: Germany's Thomas Mueller (centre) heads in the first goal past Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero
Klose doubles Germany's lead
Dictating the pace early in the first half, Germany refused to fall back after their quick lead, pressing high in Argentina's half and coming close to more goals through Sami Khedira and Miroslav Klose.
Germany, who beat Argentina on penalties at the same stage of the tournament in 2006, gradually allowed their opponents to come forward, responding with lightning-quick counter-attacks.
Klose doubled the German lead in the 68th minute when Lukas Podolski put in a perfect pass from the left and the striker tapped in from close range.
Image: Miroslav Klose (left) scores the second goal for Germany
Klose one short of Ronaldo's all time record
Klose scored his second in the 89th minute when he volleyed home a cross from Mesut Ozil for Germany's fourth and his 14th World Cup goal, to be level level with Germany's Gerd Mueller and just one short of Ronaldo's all time record.
"If it was up to me I would prefer to win the World Cup than top the World Cup scorers' list," the soft-spoken forward told reporters, a smile barely visible on his face as his joyous team mates shuffled by him holding empty beer cans.
"Of course it is a compliment to be up there with Gerd Mueller but I want the World Cup," said Klose, who has scored 52 goals for Germany.
Image: Miroslav Klose celebrates his second goal
'We were highly disciplined'
Germany, whose squad is the youngest in 76 years, were too fast for Argentina in attack and too solid in defence.
Arne Friedrich got a third with his first international goal in the 74th minute, finishing from a metre out after Schweinsteiger's cross.
German coach Joachim Loew said his team did "everything nearly perfectly," praising the defence.
"What the team showed today in terms of determination to win was the sort you would expect from champions, also the ambition they showed, the speed and attacking tempo we showed in the second half, it was absolute class," he told reporters.
"We were highly disciplined, but we were also willing to put in the extra effort."
Image: Arne Friedrich scores the third goal for Germany
Messi goes home in disappointment
Lionel Messi was one of the most eagerly awaited players in Africa's first World Cup but never scored during the tournament.
The Argentines, with playmaker Messi often stifled by two or three defenders, tried desperately to level with long-range shots without success.
Messi, crowded out whenever he got near the ball, ended the game a frustrated figure reduced to hopeful, and usually wayward, long-distance shots.
He goes home in disappointment, his reputation as a world great a little tarnished.
"We just had a bad game. If you make mistakes like that, you go home," Argentine forward Carlos Tevez said. "We knew they could be dangerous on set-pieces and on the counter-attack."
Image: Lionel Messi
Schweinsteiger the heart of Germany's perfect blend
After tearing England apart 4-1 in the second round with a devastating display of counter-attacking, the rampant Germans handed Argentina an unimaginable spanking.
Coach Joachim Loew deserves huge credit for giving the youngsters their head, but it should also be remembered that he kept faith with some old hands when all around him were questioning his wisdom.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, still only 25 he half-belongs in the youthful vigour camp but with 79 caps already he is also one of the wise old heads of the squad.
Spreading passes long and short, prompting his team mates into space then overlapping and joining the attack when he saw a gap, it was a midfield master class that Michael Ballack, watching from the stands, could surely only marvel at.
Image: Bastian Schweinsteiger