Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Feature: The 2005 Generation meets The Class of ’09

“When the 22 players representing Germany and Argentina step out onto the Maracanã pitch for Sunday’s World Cup final, roughly half will be fulfilling prophecies made in the previous decade. From Argentina captain Lionel Messi to Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, the team-sheets will reflect the fact that glory for both teams has been in the pipeline for some time. The backbone of the Germany team who eviscerated hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals was drawn from the Under-21 side that triumphed at the European Championship in 2009. The source of Argentina’s achievements in Brazil, meanwhile, can be traced back even further, to the World Youth Championship — later rechristened the Under-20 World Cup — in the Netherlands in 2005.”

My piece for AFP on the two gilded generations that will face off in Sunday’s World Cup final can be read here.

Report: Mertesacker gives England sinking feeling

“London — Germany procured a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory over England in a friendly at Wembley on Tuesday, consigning their old rivals to successive home defeats for the first time since 1977.”

My AFP match report on England’s final game of 2013 can be found here.

Reaction: Hodgson values England gains above losses

Pitchside Europe: Götze keeps Germany guessing

Having successfully prised Manuel Neuer from Schalke in the summer, Bayern – who host Dortmund in their next league game – see Götze as an ideal long-term replacement for the increasingly injury-prone Arjen Robben and, characteristically, they have made no attempt to disguise their admiration. The problem for Bayern, however, is that the object of their affections does not seem to concur with their lofty self-regard.

My latest Pitchside Europe column for Eurosport, on Borussia Dormund’s Mario Götze, can be read here.

Pitchside Europe: Lazio move can take Miroslav closer

“The memories of Klose that will endure the longest are those that recall his World Cup exploits: the neat somersaults that followed each of his five headed goals at the 2002 tournament; the equaliser against Argentina in the 2006 quarter-final in Berlin; the opener in the 4-1 humiliation of England in Bloemfontein last year. Like Pelé, or Diego Maradona, Klose has saved his best performances for the sport’s biggest occasion.”

My latest Pitchside Europe blog, on Miroslav Klose’s anachronistic dedication to international football, can be read here (apologies for the atrocious headline).

World Cup tactics: Don’t neglect the holding role

As in 2006, three of the four semi-finalists at this year’s World Cup have played in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

For France, Portugal and Italy (whose 4-2-3-1 could also be interpreted as a 4-4-1-1) in 2006, read Spain, Germany and the Netherlands in 2010. Germany were the black sheep in 2006, with a 4-4-2 hinged upon a midfield diamond that featured Torsten Frings at the base and Michael Ballack at the tip. Uruguay are the odd ones out this time around, their 3-4-1-2 having initially morphed into a 4-3-1-2/4-3-2-1 and then a 4-4-2 for the semi-final defeat to Holland.

One of the most distinctive elements of the 4-2-3-1 is the presence of two deep-lying central midfielders in front of the defence. Spain, Germany and the Netherlands are not the only teams to have fielded two such players, but what has made their midfield configurations so effective is the way they have paired players with different qualities.

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World Cup tactics: How the quarter-finalists line up

On the eve of the World Cup, Football Further asked whether the 4-2-3-1 formation would continue to dominate as it did at the last tournament in 2006. The average position diagrams below, taken from all eight last-16 matches, demonstrate that while it remains the most popular shape in the international game, variations in tactics mean that it is being deployed in very different ways.

Uruguay: 4-3-1-2/4-3-2-1

Uruguay began the competition as predicted by playing in a 3-4-1-2 but after a dour goalless draw with France in their opening game they shifted to a flat back four, with Jorge Fucile shuffling along to left-back from central defence, Alvaro Pereira pushed forward from left wing-back into a genuine left-midfield role and Edinson Cavani brought in on the right side of the attack in place of playmaker Ignacio González. Reading of the formation depends on Diego Forlán’s positioning. He tends to play much deeper than Suárez, and slightly to the left, turning the shape into a 4-3-1-2, but Cavani’s tendency to pull wide means he often operates on roughly the same line as Forlán, with Suárez left to lead the line alone.

The average positions of Uruguay's players in the first half of their 2-1 victory over South Korea in the last 16;

 [Squad numbers: 1. Fernando Muslera; 16. Maxi Pereira, 2. Diego Lugano, 3. Diego Godin, 4. Jorge Fucile; 15. Diego Pérez, 17. Egidio Arévalo Ríos, 11. Alvaro Pereira; 7. Edinson Cavani, 10. Diego Forlán; 9. Luis Suárez]

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World Cup scouting: Sami Khedira (Germany)

Nothing screams opportunity like an injury to a first-team player in the build-up to a World Cup. Had Jimmy Greaves not badly gashed his leg in 1966, we might never have heard of Geoff Hurst. Had Santiago Cañizares not dropped a bottle of aftershave on his foot in 2002, a 21-year-old Iker Casillas would have had to wait for his chance to shine at the World Cup. And if Michael Ballack had not been ruled out of Germany’s World Cup squad earlier this week, Sami Khedira would not be going into the tournament with the weight of his country’s expectations on his shoulders.

“It can be assumed that Khedira is the number one candidate for this position,” said Germany coach Joachim Löw shortly after Ballack’s unavailability had been confirmed last weekend. “He has a great deal of potential and is a player who has already been given a lot of responsibility at Stuttgart. He also shows that he has matured.”

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