Tag Archives: Germany

South Africa Match Observations: Quarterfinals, Part II

Some random observations after the Quarterfinals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup:

Argentina 0-4 Germany: It took less than 3 minutes for Germany’s Tomas Mueller to get on the end of a set piece free kick from Bastien Schweinsteiger to head home the game’s first goal. Germany let it be known from the beginning that they were going to take advantage of space, switch play frequently, use deft touch passing, and make diagonal runs. Argentina wanted to slowly build sustained attacks but early on Germany was disrupting their play in the midfield; their speedy counterattack was working against the Germans, though. Good back-and-forth action; obviously these two teams were going to attack each other relentlessly. Argentina’s attack was surprisingly fundamental; they weren’t doing the things (spreading the field, diagonal runs, taking advantage of space) that had worked for them until now. I would argue that this was a result of Argentina having respect for the German counterattack and not wanting to get caught with their pants down. But going down early Argentina was sending men forward in numbers. Mueller and Schweinsteiger were the focal point of the German attack (expected to see more of Mesut Oezel contribute in this role) and a wall in front of the backline. About 20 minutes in Argentina started to make effective through balls to forwards (particularly Carlos Tevez) frequently beating the German offside trap. Part of the reason the German backline was able to hold most of the game was because, unlike fullback Phillip Lahm on the right flank going forward with frequency as part of the attack, Jerome Boateng stayed home on the left and took care of his defensive responsibilities, making a virtual 3-man backline on Argentine counters to effectively disrupt Argentina’s ability to go forward on their right. Better offensive buildup from Argentina in the second half, spreading the ball around and maintaining possession effectively. But they were vulnerable in the back, where their already weak defense was beginning to lose their shape. Three quick goals from Miroslav Klose in the 69th and 89th minutes and Arne Friedrich (!) in the 74th minute put paid to the fact that when things were falling apart, (1) Argentina’s pre-tournament perception that they were weak in the back was very accurate, and (2) Argentine coach Diego Maradona had no answers in the face of things going wrong. A stunningly clinical victory for Germany, who easily picked Argentina apart. I don’t know what’s wrong with their club teams, but Klose and Lukas Podolski are still world-class players and clearly not out of form. The future of German football is in good hands with Oezel and Mueller, both clearly world class players in the making.

Paraguay 0-1 Spain: Paraguay dropped all of their strikers for this match. Paraguay played a pressing game, keeping the ball in the Spain half even when they didn’t have the ball. Spain, on the other hand, were probably more patient than they’ve been to this point, content to keep their composure and getting forward very carefully. Clearly Spain was going to wait and see if Paraguay could keep the frenetic workrate and pressure up all game long. Paraguay did such a good job of closing down the ball by multiple players that Spain couldn’t put together a creative, sustained attack. On the occasions that David Villa or Fernando Torres were on the ball in the penalty area the Paraguayan backline were cool customers, denying space, unworriedly taking the ball away from the ball carrier, then calmly distributing the ball forward (not panicking and just clearing it out). How’s this for stranger than fiction? Spanish defender Gerrard Pique pulled down Oscar Cardoza in the box which got Paraguay a penalty in the 57th minute – only for Spanish keeper Iker Casillas to stop the penalty. Then less than a minute later, Paraguayan defender Alcarez brought down David Villa in the box which got Paraguay a penalty in the 59th minute – that also resulted in a miss by Xabi Alonso. You just got a feeling that Spain was eventually going to get that one goal as they managed to open things up dramatically, with Paraguay just not able to keep that furious pressure up for 90 minutes. The eventual goal came about in the 82 minute when a Spanish breakaway resulted in two shots on the Paraguayan goal at point-blank range, and David Villa finally breaking through on a goal-post rebound. It was academic after that: Paraguay tried to attack in numbers but didn’t have the finesse to create any sustained offense (although Casillas came up big on a lose ball in the box in the 87th minute). The resulted we all expected happened but kudos to a Paraguayan side that made Spain work for it. Spain’s semi against Germany should be the game of the tournament.

— daveydoug

South Africa Match Observations: Round Of 16, Part II

Some random observations after the First Knockout Round:

Germany 4-1 England: Despite the lack of veteran star-quality players Germany has made the free-flowing, inventive attack work for them for over six years; this game was no different. Central attacking midfielder Mesut Oezil has been the creative focal point for the Germans all tournament long and is a star in the making, with his ability to make something happen from all over the pitch, not just the center. As a result Germany was getting forward effectively on the flanks (they always do). Despite having Jermaine Defoe and James Milner on the right side, England was not making effective use of the wings in attack, where they instead chose to try to get forward with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who were getting cut off by he German midfield.

Of course the one star quality veteran Germany has, goal poacher Miroslav Klose, gets on the end of a Route One pass straight down the middle from his own goalkeeper to get behind John Terry and Matthew Upson and one-time it past David James. Germany continued to open things up, making good use of angles and runs against the England offside trap to get into the box and get quality shots on goal (James came up huge on several occasions). Case in point: Germany’s second goal, when Lukas Podolski was the direct beneficiary of sublime one-touch passing through angles and space to finish a Thomas Mueller pass from the right. Of course what was England’s response? Long shots from deep outside the penalty area because they couldn’t effectively get their attack in the penalty area or get service to the front men (specifically Wayne Rooney, who just couldn’t get on the end of any service and finish off any shots all tournament long). Upson gets on the end of a late lovely ball by Gerrard on a corner to head one home. England surely got screwed one minute later (the replay proved it) when an obvious Frank Lampard long range deft lob made it over the German keeper, bounced off the cross bar and was clearly two feet over the line, but the referee denied them the tying goal. Nonetheless, England got motivated, stopped playing slow and ponderous football, and began to play with confidence, and the match became a war of attrition. You just kind of knew that with England sending numbers forward trying to score that it would leave the back vulnerable to a German counterattack. In the 66th minute Germany countered after an England set piece that Mueller finished (with Oezel at the critical center of it of course). After that Germany just picked England apart. At the end of the day, no matter how little we think of their talent, Germany just knows how to get results on football’s biggest stage. Apparently Fabio Capello has reached his glass ceiling; if he was as good as we thought he was supposed to be, then why did Sven Goran Eriksson – whom nobody liked – take them at least to the quarterfinals twice?

Argentina 3-1 Mexico: Two teams that use a 4-3-3 formation, with three front players (although Mexico’s attack was a little more direct). So Argentina was going to have to expend resources they normally would have used going forward to have to account for the Mexican attack. A couple of long-range shots from Mexico almost found the goalkeeper asleep. Argentina’s patient buildup finally leads to a goal when magical talisman Lionel Messi gets through the Mexican defense in the center and gets the ball on the head of Carlos Tevez in an obvious offside position by at least 5 yards.

After that Mexico began to lose their composure and unravel– and mostly their shape in the back as Gonzalo Higuain took advantage of a mistake by Ricardo Osorio to finish off Argentina’s second goal in the 31st minute. Mexico mostly created their own problems by giving away the ball in the back. For all the attention given to Messi it creates space and scoring opportunities for Tevez and Higuain – who take clear advantage of it — so it isn’t as if Messi is having a bad tournament even though he hasn’t scored up to this point. Still, you feel it coming. All the problems of qualifying for Argentina are clearly gone; they are playing a very complete and united game of football. With all the lack of concentration and organization by Mexico it became clinical for Argentina, with Tevez scoring on a lethal lazar shot from in front of the penalty area. A more frenetic pace in attack by Mexico results in Javier Hernandez getting through the defender in the center on a beautiful first touch to twirl around and rifle a shot past the Argentine keeper to finally get Mexico on the board. But it was too little too late. Dominating and complete performance by the Albiceleste, who will have an entertaining match with Germany in the quarterfinals. As usual, Mexico reaches that glass ceiling and crashes out in the Round of 16.


South Africa 2010 Match Observations: Group D

Some random observations after the third group fixtures:

Australia 2-1 Serbia: This was an up-tempo game with both teams pushing aggressively up field and taking shots from everywhere. Milos Krasic got loose on a long ball behind the Aussie defense and with the goalie way out to challenge him, he pushed the ball around the goalie and fired a shot over the near post. Serbia should have been on the board there and Krasic would have have been better served controlling the ball after beating the goalie on the dribble as he would have had all kinds of time to deliver a more balanced shot at an open goal. Mark Schwarzer made a brilliant save on Branislav Ivanovic’s point blank half-volley from just a few yards out. Lots of excitement in the first half, but it was all near misses and good saves. The second half found the Aussies with renewed energy and they started consistently applying pressure in the final third. Socceroo star Tim Cahill finally put a header past the goalie to put Australia in the lead. Cahill is one of the best in the world at scoring with his head and his header was perfectly placed. Minutes later, Brett Holman unleashed one from 30 yards out to the bottom left of the goal. The Serbian goalie looked like he got a late jump on his dive and he clearly was not expecting a shot from that distance. With the two-goal lead, the Aussies brought on another striker for a defender obviously realizing that their only hope for advancement was to score more to obtain a tiebreaker advantage. After the second goal, the Serbians woke up and realized they were about to be drummed out of the Cup and played with some renewed vigor. Schwarzer could not control the short hop on a long shot and Marko Pantelic pounced on the rebound for the goal. The Serbs continued swarming on offense and fired more shots in the last ten minutes than they had for the prior 80. Good no call by the referee on a handball in his own box by Cahill on a corner. There clearly was no intent on Cahill’s part as the ball went off a Serbian behind him and hit the back of his arm. Despite the flurry at the end, Serbia could not find the evener. Despite the win, the Socceroos lost the tiebreaker and did not advance. If the Serbs had merely managed a tie, they would have advanced. With the loss, the team most expected to advance out of the group with Germany ends up in last place in the group.

Ghana 0-1 Germany: The Germans entered the game in the unfamiliar position of likely needing to win to advance (that is until Serbia managed to lose to the Aussies playing simultaneously). However, early on, Germany played cautiously looking for the counterattack while Ghana pushed its attack. Ten minutes in, Black Stars goalie Richard Kingson was forced to make a good save when his own defender John Mensah poorly cleared a Lukas Podolski cross nearly into the goal. Both teams began really working the flanks for good opportunities. Germany shook off its early tentativeness and the game became a very entertaining back and forth with both teams playing up-tempo and switching up the attack side-to-side well. German forward Mesut Ozil broke in alone at the goalie, but Kingson made a great one-on-one save on the shot as he came out to challenge Ozil. On a corner at the other end, Gyan flicked a header toward the back post, but Philipp Lahm was stationed there to deny it. Both teams impressed in the first half and both are fortunate not to have given up a goal. 15 minutes into the second half, Ozil made up for his earlier failure by rocketing a 25-yard shot into the upper left corner of the goal. The last minutes of the game were played with a lack of urgency by both teams as they surely realized both would be advancing because of what was going on in the Serbia-Australia game. Refreshing to see a game with both teams playing aggressively for most of the game and both squads deservedly advanced out of the group. Nonetheless, given how many great opportunities each team had, both should be concerned about their inability to finish. The Black Stars in particular only scored two goals in their three group games and both were on penalty kicks. The Germans will be glad to get Miroslav Klose back as no one stepped up to replace his goal scoring after he got red-carded in their game against Serbia.