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Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Four Moments Which Decided World Cup 2014

So the ruthless Germans have won the Cup after all? It wasn’t the outcome Wired868 expert Lasana Liburd foresaw. But he has now decreed that tiki-kaiser shall henceforth succeed tiki-taka as football’s dominant style.
Liburd’s opinion dovetails with the post-final view expressed by TV6’s Sweet Samba guru Keith Look Loy. According to the former TTFF technical director, it is not just top-class automobiles like MERCEDES BENZES, BMWs and high-end Volkswagens that have been rolling off the German production line but top-class footballers as well.

Photo: Germay defender and captain Philipp Lahm (second from right) lifts the World Cup trophy with his teammates. (Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrice Coffrini)
Photo: Germay defender and captain Philipp Lahm (second from right) lifts the World Cup trophy with his teammates.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrice Coffrini)

And they will continue to do so, he predicts, into the foreseeable future.
It’s hard to disagree with Look Loy; I think, however, that Liburd’s is a questionable conclusion. True, the Mannschaft won on Sunday. But it was neither German football nor German strategy that triumphed at the Maracanã; it was sheer German technical efficiency.
And if there is one constant in German football, it is technical efficiency. Think Gerd Muller, 10 goals in the 1970 Finals. Think new record-holder Miroslav Klose, 16 goals in four Finals.
In his post-match analysis, Liburd himself takes issue with LookLoy’s conclusion on strategy. The ex-TD contended that, at a crucial stage of the proceedings, the South Americans opted for safety first. Cockroach eh have no right before fowl, I was taught, so I am staying far away from the experts’ argument.
What I will, however, venture to say is that Liburd’s “Tiki-Kaiser” piece misses the obvious conclusion to which the following three paragraphs adduce:
It was Germany who made the defensive change and not Argentina. But history would not remember it that way, particular (sic) after the 22-year-old (Mario) Götze’s superb winner.
Earlier, (Gonzalo) Higuain scoffed (sic) the best chance of the match in the 20th minute and ended up with the foolish look of a guy who suddenly forgot his girlfriend’s name while trying to introduce her to an ex. And (Rodrigo) Palacio’s scooped miss in extra time was even worse.

Photo: Argentina's rat-tailed forward Rodrigo Palacio (centre) shoots past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer but wide of the goal in the 2014 World Cup final. (Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrizio Bensch)
Photo: Argentina’s rat-tailed forward Rodrigo Palacio (centre) shoots past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer but wide of the goal in the 2014 World Cup final.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrizio Bensch)

(…) Germany, unsurprisingly, was not as wasteful; and that was the difference between dancing along to “Happy” after the final whistle or praying for the Maracanã Stadium to swallow you up.
If Liburd misses the mark, Kern Spencer, the first reader to leave a comment, is right on the ball, pointing out that goals, not reputations, win matches. Here, in part, is what Spencer says:
Argentina had good chances, and the front line just lacked that finishing touch. If Higuain scored that gift early in the game, who knows how the game may have evolved.
That, for me, is where the cookie crumbles. Had Higuain scored that opening goal in the 20th minute, who knows indeed how the game would have turned out? But the striker’s technique failed him, one of three such instances of South American failings in the match, which altered its course – and, arguably, the outcome.
And in my view, the heart of the matter resides in a combination of Spencer’s comment that “Argentina had good chances” and Liburd’s observation that “Argentina did not force a single save from Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.”
Minute 20: Toni Kroos, doing his best Brazilian impersonation, heads the ball back onto the feet of Higuain, well behind the high German defence. In an offside position but not, of course, off-side.
Gleefully accepting the gilt-edged gift, Higuain turns, gets into the German 18-yard box; the goalkeeper advances. With space ahead of him and on either side of Neuer, the forward unforgivably screws his shot left of the custodian’s right upright.
Who knew then that that was the first nail in the Argentine coffin?
Minute 47: Nail number two comes from an unexpected source. Lionel Messi wriggles free on the left, leaving behind a clutch of German defenders. Neuer, the only one to beat, is planted on the first post. But the man some say is the world’s best player and whom a star-studded panel would inexplicably later adjudge the Player of the Tournament sends his left-footer spinning wide to the German’s left.

Photo: Argentina captain Lionel Messi (second from right) looks for a way past Germany players Andre Schuerrle (far right). Benedikt Hoewedes (centre), Mesut Özil (second from left) and Toni Kroos. He couldn't beat four Germans?! Clearly, the boy is overrated! (Copyright AFP 2014/Gabriel Bouys)
Photo: Argentina captain Lionel Messi (second from right) looks for a way past Germany players Andre Schuerrle (far right). Benedikt Hoewedes (centre), Mesut Özil (second from left) and Toni Kroos.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Gabriel Bouys)

Nil-nil. Argentina die a second time before their eventual death and Loew’s Germans live to fight another day.
Minute 97: Day Three comes in extra-time. Substitute Palacio benefits from a German defensive misjudgement on a high ball and finds himself confronted by a German custodian advancing late into no man’s land. Missing is more difficult than scoring, you feel; one proper touch is all it takes. Palacio contrives to get the inside of his instep on the ball, taking it over the custodian’s head… and, like Higuain’s before him, left of Neuer’s right upright Unblocked Games At School.
Before we look at the final critical moment of Sunday’s final, let us briefly look back at one moment of the July 7 Brazil vs Germany semi-final. It is a situation we have encountered a dozen times before in the course of the last month; the result has always been the same. Either the attacker misses the mark (Brazil’s Hulk) or the keeper lifts his arms in time to make an impossible stop (Nigeria’s Enyeama).
Today, the score is already 6-0 and the result has long been settled. André Schürrle gets free on the left side of Julio Cesar’s goal. The angle is acute. Cesar advances to make it more so. Schürrle pulls the trigger. Jepnest. Julio Cesar fetches. 7-0.
German technical efficiency with a vengeance.
Minute 113: In yesterday’s final, it was replicated with seven minutes of extra-time left on the clock. This time, however, the Germans are assisted by an Argentine misjudgement. Seeing Schürrle racing down the left flank, DeMichelis opts to go towards the ball instead of dropping deeper to give cover and get Götze, angling right on his run-in from midfield, in his sights. He is banking, it seems, on a low cross which he can cut out.

Photo: Germany attacker Mario Götze.
Photo: Germany attacker Mario Götze.

Schürrle delivers high, on point; the defender looks back to see Götze take the ball on his chest just wide of the first post, swivel and crash his volley ever so sweetly with the middle of his left boot.
The advancing Romero is helpless against German technical efficiency.

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