WORLD CUP FOOTBALL: Germans to four-front again – Diego Maradona’s inexperience as a coach gets exposed – good planning foresight and execution takes the day, something Bongal’s spun dried India has yet to learn ?!!
From The Telegraph
One’s out of the world performance knocked the other out of the Cup. Argentina did not have any answer to Germany’s onslaught and Joachim Loew’s men were the deserving team to enter the semi-finals.
Before the match very few could have predicted a 4-0 scoreline in favour of the Germans but then this team is a class apart. Now, unless and until they bungle big time, the World Cup is going to Duetschland. That’s for sure.
What a match the Germans played; really mind-blowing football. Bastian Schweinsteiger was deadly in the midfield, Sami Khedira was equally good and Lucas Podolski was brilliant. Then there was the defence led by skipper Philipp Lahm. Not for once the Argentina’s much vaunted frontline managed to make a headway. The Germans were that good on Saturday.
This multi-ethnic German team reminds me of Les Bleus of 1998 World Cup. A Turkish (Mesut Oezil, a Ghanaian (Jerome Boetang), a Tunisian (Khedira) and two Polish (Miroslav Klose and Lucas Podolski) in the line-up, the Germans have reinvented themselves. And how!
Look at this Thomas Mueller, who was a Bayern Munich reserve just a year-and-half back. Now he is a vital cog in the German wheel and already has four goals in South Africa.
Unfortunately, he will be missing the semi-final but I don’t think Loew will be that worried. His team is on a roll. On Sunday last, it was England who got a taste of the German blitzkrieg and within six days it was Argentina’s turn.
I can safely put my money on this team to win the World Cup and also the Euro 2012. Pardon me if I am going overboard… But once in while, you can actually. Isn’t it?
The Germans made a blazing start going into the lead as early as the third minute. Schweinsteiger curled in a free-kick and Mueller flicked in a header past the rival goalkeeper.
Podolski was a revelation on Saturday. He followed Loew’s order to the T. Whenever Argentina were building up moves, Podolski was there to hound either Lionel Messi or Angel di Maria. Every German player, including Klose, was chasing down the Argentines whenever they had the ball.
The South Americans clearly did not have any answer to that. Both Argentina and Brazil were not really tested in this World Cup. But once they came up against quality oppositions they were found wanting. I was also surprised by Diego Maradona’s decision of keeping Juan Sebastian Veron on the bench.
A midfielder par excellence, he would have been the perfect man to put the ball in Messi’s foot. Messi needs someone who will deliver the ball to him.
In Barcelona, this thing is done by Xavi and Andreas Iniesta and in the Argentine team Veron is the only one who is capable of doing that. And Maradona kept him on the bench? Ridiculous and blasphemous!
This decision showed how inexperienced Maradona is as a coach. He can be one of football’s all time greats but as a coach he needs more experience.
He may have the passion but his tactical acumen is zero. After this debilitating loss, I doubt whether the Argentine football federation will keep him at the helm.
So what we saw was a lost and lonely Messi dropping deep for the ball and the Germans were too happy with that. And the moment he went into the attacking third, at least four Germans were snapping on his heels.
Even if he managed to get past two, the third one would stop the little magician. Poor soul! He did not get his name on the scoresheet even for once in this World Cup. May be the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be his. At 27, he will be more mature and physically stronger and will be able to lead Argentina to greater heights.
The Germans were physically stronger and fitter. They defended dourly and did not give the Argentines any shooting angles. .
The second goal came in the 68th minute when Podolski broke into the Argentine box and then unselfishly played it to Klose who happily obliged with a tap in. Six minutes later came the third. Schweinsteiger slalomed three defenders and then cut the ball back to central defender Arne Friedrich for a simplest of tap-ins. It did not end there.
In the 89th minute, Klose, who was lurking inside the box, volleyed in past a hapless Romero. What a way for Klose to celebrate the 100th appearance for his country!
The seeds of 2010, were actually sown in 2006 when under Juergen Klinsmann we saw a different Germany. It was so unlike of 1980s and 90s when they used to play dull football and almost unnoticed would go all the way.
DIEGO’S DOOMSDAY – How tactics shredded talent – something that BG knows and practices well, teacher the “University of Life” ?!!
Unknown to Theo Zwanziger at the time, the president of the all-powerful German football federation had laid the foundation for Germany’s latest destruction of Argentina all the way back on August 1, 2004.
That was when Zwanziger took the gamble of not only appointing the idiosyncratic, California-based Jurgen Klinsmann as national coach but agreeing to accept all his demands on the team’s administrative reorganisation and personnel.
One such demand was the appointment of Joachim Loew as Klinsmann’s assistant.
“Joachim who?” was the reaction of much of the German media. Loew had played a handful of times in midfield for the under-21s, had sunk with barely a trace out of the Bundesliga and returned later — and only briefly — as lucky cup-winning coach of Stuttgart.
An Austrian league title with Tirol Innsbruck mattered little more than his sackings from relegated Karlsruhe and from Fenerbahce and Adanaspor in Turkey. But on a coaching course, Loew had had the good fortune to meet Klinsmann who would later remember that fellow student with a remarkable tactical brain.
Klinsmann brought “Jogi” into the German national team set up to spy on players, run training sessions and plan the tactics. Loew, quiet and studious but firm and decisive, impressed players and officials — and Zwanziger.
Thus, when Klinsmann resigned after the third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup, Loew was promoted to the top job. He guided Germany to a better-than-expected runners-up spot at the 2008 European Championship and is repeating that trick at the pinnacle of the game in South Africa.
Loew is different. He proved the point after the 4-1 dismissal of England in Bloemfontein in the second round. Most coaches sit down at the media conference and spout a string of clichéd platitudes. Loew, instead, explained calmly and lucidly — without a hint of triumphalism — how he had studied England’s style and players and worked out the tactics to rip them apart, piece by tiny piece.
That same attention to detailed preparation was evident in the manner in which Germany shredded the far more talented opposition in Argentina under the delighted gazes of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and injured ex-captain Michael Ballack.
Germany not only ramped up their game magisterially beyond the quality of their England performance but utterly nullified the threat of the most gifted and focused individual talent of the finals, Leo Messi.
Thomas Muller, scorer of two of the goals which destroyed England, scored the first in only the third minute from a right-wing raid. All the other three goals were generated from movements down the other side which Loew had identifed as Argentina’s vulnerable flank.
It is impossible to resist the old national stereotypes. As the game went on so Argentina’s teamwork grew more ragged and their equalising efforts more individualistic. Germany’s passing remained cool and accurate and their tactical discipline far more rigorous.
Argentina were caught in the same trap as England. They threw men forward, chasing the game in the second half and were slaughtered by Germany’s electrifying pace on the counter-attack. Miroslav Klose scored twice and defender Arne Friedrich the other.
Loew, then a 26-year-old journeyman professional with modest Freiburg, still remembers watching on television when Germany lost 3-2 to an Argentina inspired by Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup final. Since then, Germany have turned the World Cup tables in the 1990 final and the 2006 quarter-finals.
Naturally, Loew will draw the greatest satisfaction from this latest reversal.
As a footballer, he would not even have dared lace the boots of Diego Maradona. But, in a different context on the Cape Town touchline, it was the Argentinian who was left immobile, grim-faced, outmanoeuvred and outplayed.
OPINION: A DIFFERENT OBSESSION – More than a matter of muscles and eggs – so can India someday also make it in football or don’t they have the “brains” for it ?!!
From The Telegraph
Notebook – Ian Jack
Why isn’t India better at football? I asked this question of a distinguished Indian historian recently. “Physique,” he said. “We’re not strong enough.”
“But you’re very good at cricket.”
“Cricket is different. It depends much more on technique. Good wrists, hand and eye co-ordination, that kind of thing.”
I was about to mention hockey — all those Olympic golds, so long ago — when I remembered a few days that I’d once spent with the Eastern Railways football side and how their coach was always looking for eggs, and fitting the price of eggs into his budget. “We need eggs,” he’d say. “The more eggs the better. Meat is too dear and of course some of the team won’t eat it. So we need eggs for protein, to build up the players’ strength.”
I think this conversation took place inside an Eastern Railways building somewhere near Dalhousie Square, though not the building that contained the Eastern Railways public relations office, which was in Old Court Street and where the staff sometimes invited me to share a regular lunch of rasgullas and toast — not a diet to feed footballers or perhaps anyone with a long-term interest in his health. The year was 1983 and I think the month was August — the late monsoon at any rate, because I watched Eastern Railways play Mohun Bagan under a steady drizzle on the Maidan. I sat on the bench with the coach, and it was my umbrella that protected both of us when the supporters of Mohun Bagan started to throw their empty kulhars in our direction. What had prompted their anger? Perhaps an Eastern Railways player had fouled an opponent or scored a goal. The bench could be the only target; Eastern Railways had no supporters to aim at. As the coach said, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting were the only clubs in Calcutta that had a real following; the purpose of other clubs was to play them and so decide which of the three would win the league.
I recognized a familiar situation, as anyone from Scotland would. Growing up in that country, I followed the team from my local town, Dunfermline. Every city and every sizeable town in Scotland had a professional football side. Glasgow had five while other cities and towns could provide two each. Some had lovely names (Heart of Midlothian, Queen of the South) that disguised their location, while others came from places so obscure (Stenhousemuir, Brechin) that only a keen geographer could find them on the map. But halfway through almost every football season, the question of who would lift the title came down to the formula ‘either/or’. Either it would be Rangers or it would be Celtic.
I write in the past tense, but in fact Rangers and Celtic are even more dominant now than they were in the 1960s. These two Glasgow teams have the largest stadiums, crowds three or four times bigger than their nearest rivals’, and much more money to spend on players’ wages. They owe their success to a long and intense rivalry that has its roots in Victorian Scotland, when Glasgow boasted that it was “the second city of the Empire” and its industrial working class could be divided along sectarian lines, between Irish Catholic immigrants (Celtic) and native Scots and Ulster Protestant immigrants (Rangers). Scotland, like the rest of Britain, is now a post-religious country and it would be surprising if more than a small percentage of the Celtic crowd regularly attended Mass, or an even smaller percentage of the Rangers crowd heard a sermon on a Sunday. You might even argue that the two teams persist as the last badges of ethnic and religious identities that began to wither when consumerism replaced heavy industry as a way of life. Where are the shipyards and the factories now, and the Protestant foremen denying jobs to Catholics, and the Protestant skilled worker fearing for his wage rates with the influx of cheaper workers from Ireland?
Scottish football was born in that time as the country’s chief recreation. England may have invented the rules, but Scotland believed that it had perfected the dribbling and passing game. In population, England was ten times the size, but when the two countries played each other, England was regularly beaten. A historic moment — the day of ‘the Wembley Wizards’ — came in 1928 when the Scottish team travelled south to Wembley and beat England 5-0. The Scottish forward line comprised five players not one of whom was more than 5ft 7in tall. The English defenders were much bigger and stronger, but Scotland ran rings around them.
So, can it really be that physique is the reason for India’s poor record at football? Think of those little Scotsmen jinking their way towards the English goalmouth. Think of where that kind of professional footballer typically came from — mining villages, or the cramped and insanitary tenements of Glasgow, where inadequate diet caused rickets, which stunted growth in children and deformed their bones. Think of what Scottish footballers then ate and drank: dripping mutton pies and sweet chocolate bars, fat and sugar, a pint of beer before kick-off, a cigarette at half-time. The wonder is that Scotland produced any footballers at all, let alone a few that in the first six or seven decades of the last century were among the best in the world.
On this evidence, we need a different answer to account for India’s lack of success. Mine is that in India football simply doesn’t matter enough. It has never gripped the national imagination, despite Mohun Bagan beating the East Yorkshire Regiment in 1911 and finding a place in the national folklore. Fifty and more years ago in Scotland, boys from the poorest families would spend hours kicking an old tennis ball around any quiet street or patch of waste ground. They had footballing heroes and pretended to be them. New pastimes and habits, mainly indoors, have replaced this enthusiasm, and today you hardly ever see the once-familiar sight of jackets and jerseys piled to form substitute goalposts and a dozen boys scampering after a rubber ball. Consequently, Scotland breeds far fewer good footballers. To find similar sights these days, you need to travel to South America — or to India, where stumps have been painted on the walls of the meanest slums and any old piece of wood will serve as a bat. A different obsession; football in India will probably never escape from its shade. It’s more than a matter of muscles and eggs.
Now a slightly different question: why isn’t England better at football? In the days since England got knocked out of the World Cup, many column inches and broadcast hours have been devoted to perplexed inquiry. England hired a celebrated Italian coach on a salary of £6 million a year; the coach, Fabio Capello, recruited an expensive string of technical and psychological assistants (all Italian); England believed it had a ‘golden generation’ of players whose skills had been honed (and bank balances massively enriched) by the Premiership, which is hailed as the most exciting and most watched soccer league in the world. And yet England struggled against lowly Slovenia, Algeria and the USA, and finally went out to a humiliating 4-1 defeat by a German team that exposed England as too old, too tired and too incompetent. No matter that I come from Scotland where hatred of the old footballing enemy is so extreme that this year’s favourite World Cup t-shirt says “Anybody But England…”: the English performance could provoke only pity even in the most twisted Scottish heart.
Some of us had seen this coming for a while. Satellite TV has given English football enormous global audiences (so that the rickshaw-driver in Muzaffarpur knows the Arsenal-Liverpool result) and with those audiences has come stupendous revenue from rights and advertising. This has been wholly bad for the development of English football, in the sense of football played by Englishmen. In Germany, football’s profits tend to head in the direction of training young German footballers. In England, the money goes on players’ wages that have been inflated to secure stars or potential stars from any part of world. The result is that only 38 per cent of Premiership players are actually qualified by nationality to play for England. It is easier, after all, to buy a decent player off-the-shelf in Nigeria or Brazil than to invest in academies and technical training that in five or ten years’ time could produce players who are just as good. A debt-laden football club wants instant gratification, and several of them, including Manchester United, carry heavy debts due to the leveraged buy-outs of their American owners.
‘Short-termism’, a particularly British component of late capitalism, is ruining English football just as it once ruined Scottish shipyards. In terms of national stereotypes, the England-Germany result could be seen as fitting. Germany invests and produces, while England buys and consumes. And then there arrives the day of reckoning…
‘Horn from hell’ – a lesson to be learnt and avoided ?!!
From The Statesman’s NB Pages
2 July 2010: Even as the controversy over the vuvuzela rages across the World Cup venue, fans in North Bengal are divided on what has ‘become an indispensable part of modern football’, writes Parag Biswas
WHEN South Africa geared up to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup, plenty of doomsayers predicted the worst. That if a transportation shortage didn’t ruin the event, crime would. That the beer would run out. Or that stadiums would be half empty. But no one expected an ugly plastic trumpet to dominate the controversy.
Hatred of the “vuvuzela” — the noisemaker wielded by South African soccer fans — ignited proceedings even before the Fifa Confederations Cup, the country’s dry run for 2010, which ended on 28 June 2009 when the US national team lost 2-3 to powerful Brazil after squandering a 2-0 halftime lead.
During the ongoing Fifa World Cup in South Africa, foreign players, coaches and journalists have called for a ban on the vuvuzela. There is debate about whether it is a unique part of South African culture and, therefore, untouchable, or just a cheap plastic import that makes a lot of noise, like an electric airhorn or a whistle. One loud, tuneless vuvuzela blast sounds something like a foghorn. But a stadium full of vuvuzelas, all tooting simultaneously, is either the most exhilarating sound or a noise so irritating it borders on painful, depending on the listener. It has been compared to a deafening swarm of wasps. Or a herd of flatulent elephants.
The vuvuzela ranges from about two to three feet and the longer it is, the harder it is to blow. The instrument has generated as much controversy during the World Cup as it did before the tournament. The ever-popular trumpet continues to remain a dominant feature at stadiums during the ongoing matches. Such is the depth of the controversy that GNA Sports deemed it important to conduct a survey on the issue in the western part of Pretoria.
Perhaps the controversy that surrounds the vuvuzela is far deeper than the official football for the tournament — “Jabulani” — which players claim has excessive speed and thus affects their style of play. Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently alleged that the sound produced by the vuvuzelas disturbed players’ concentration, said he was getting used to the much-criticised World Cup match ball. “I’m more used to it than I was two weeks ago. I don’t think it will be a problem. We’ve trained enough with it to get accustomed to it and I’m sure the dribbles, the shots and the corners with it will all be fine,” he told a sports channel.
With only a few days into the tournament, the Local Organising Committee of the 2010 World Cup began pondering whether or not to ban the use of the controversial trumpet within stadiums, given that the similarity to a massive swarm of very angry bees drowned television broadcasting. This sparked another controversy in the course of the tournament and has now become the single item for discussion in the media since the Loc made that controversial statement on 13 June.
Following this development and, of course, preceding ones, the vuvuzela has easily become a controversial instrument that is now part and parcel of the beautiful game in South Africa. Also known as the “Lepatata”, the vuvuzela is approximately a metre in length and is doubtlessly the most popular item in South Africa, with every soccer fan possessing one. Blown throughout each game, it produces a monotone like a foghorn. The instrument requires some lip and lung strength to blow and emits, from the standard shorter horn of 60 to 65 cm, a loud, distinctive note. A similar instrument, known as the “Corneta” in Brazil and other Latin American countries, is used by football fans in South America.
The origin of the term “vuvuzela” is disputed, but it was first used in South Africa from the Zulu language or Nguni dialect meaning to “make a vuvu sound”, directly translated. Traditionally made and inspired from a kudu horn, the vuvuzela was used to summon distant villagers to attend community gatherings.
The vuvuzela has become a symbol of South African soccer, and stadiums filled with its loud and raucous sound reflect the exhilaration of supporters. South African fans believe vuvuzelas will blow their opponents away, turn them to jelly.
Since its introduction in 1990 in South Africa by a soccer fan of a local club, Kaiser Chiefs, the vuvuzela has become a feature at every South Africa game and has widely spread across the continent. But the call for its ban has only been in existence since the 2009 Confederations Cup — its ability to drown television broadcasting being the major argument against it. In addition, players and officials have also complained of its effects on communication on the pitch, not just among themselves, but with officials, coaches and referees, whilst other arguments — such as its tendency to drown public announcements at the stadium in case of a stampede and evacuation procedure — have also been advanced.
The likes of Christiano Ronaldo, Patrice Evra, Lionel Messi and Xavi Alonso in a tall list, expressed their displeasure at the instrument, even though English defender Jamie Caragher thought otherwise. He said it did not affect him and had even bought two for his children. Others have argued that the mass use of the vuvuzela at a stadium causes hearing defects, and this has been backed by some health organisations in Switzerland that deal with hearing, with some antagonists claiming it could be used by hooligans to cause trouble at a stadium.
The business community has not been left out of the criticism, as it has been identified as an effective tool for ambush marketing, with several corporate bodies designing branded vuvuzelas for free distribution during the tournament. Hyundai constructed the world’s largest working vuvuzela as part of a marketing campaign for the World Cup. The 35-metre blue vuvuzela in Cape Town was intended to be used at the beginning of each match; however, it has not yet sounded a note during the World Cup as its volume was a cause of concern for city authorities. Communication giants MTN, but for their role as lead sponsors of the tournament, would have been cited for ambush marketing in distributing thousands of the branded instruments to fans days before the World Cup.
On the other hand, health experts believe its rotational use by fans may be a channel for spreading the flu among them.
In spite of the serious criticisms and concerns raised by critics, the vuvuzela remains the most popular cheer instrument and has become a symbol of the sport in recent times, with multitudes of football fans developing a deep-rooted emotional attachment for the instrument. For this reason, there is no doubt it will become one of the legacies that Africa will hand over to the world after the World Cup tournament, since the Europeans, Americans and Asians could not resist the temptation of using one.
Fifa has, on several occasions, refused to ban the instrument purely on sentimental grounds and the statement by it president, Sepp Blatter, in the heat of the debate seems to have summed up the issue. According to him, banning the vuvuzela will amount to an attempt to Europeanise an African World Cup. For him, it is indeed an African World Cup and must be used as the platform to demonstrate the culture of the continent, of which the vuvuzela is a part.
However, Blatter insists the instrument should not be longer than one metre, but his pronouncements months before the start of the tournament only temporarily cooled off the debate against its use. A critical evaluation of the situation points to the fact that the arguments made against the use of the vuvuzela at a stadium provide enough grounds for its ban. On the other hand, its ban will affect the mood of the host nation and, of course, other African countries. because of the deep-rooted emotions attached to it by fans. No wonder the insistence of a Fifa spokesperson that the vuvuzela will not be banned.
The Loc and Fifa are indeed in a dilemma, and may be scratching their heads each day in search for a solution to the controversy, as the vuvuzela continues to dominate proceedings at the tournament. The question of whether to ban it or not is raging on, even in India, which has never been part of a Fifa World Cup.
Malay Dasgupta of Cooch Behar, who is an avid Lionel Messi fan, lashed out at Fifa for not banning the instrument, “It is difficult for anyone on the pitch to concentrate. My hero Messi and a lot of other players have voiced their concern over the use of vuvuzelas, which are creating an ear-shattering experience during the ongoing World Cup. They don’t like them, but they are going to have to get used to them as Fifa has failed to ban them.”
“It never ends,” said Ajay Sengupta of Hyderpara in Siliguri, who is one of the vuvuzela’s loudest detractors among supporters of Brazil in the town. “And it is like you are being attacked by a swarm of locusts for 90 consecutive minutes.”
“I know what he’s talking about,” said his friend, Shankar Chakravorty. “How can they constantly do that?”
Sujay Ray of Ashrampara in Siliguri pointed out that at a time when the West Bengal Pollution Control Board was gearing up to impose a ban on honking in Siliguri, as effectively as the Siliguri Municipal Corporation had proscribed the use of plastic carry bags in the town, the Fifa president declared that the vuvuzela would not be banned for the World Cup finals.
“It is a pity that while the authorities in a small town in India are planning to deploy police personnel near hospitals, educational institutions and courts to ensure effective implementation of the ban on honking near these places and impose ‘on the spot’ fines against offenders, Fifa agreed to permit the use of vuvuzela horns in stadiums during the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup.
Vuvuzelas pose a real potential danger to noise-induced hearing loss. Professor James Hall, Dr Dirk Koekemoer, De Wet Swanepoel and colleagues at the University of Pretoria have found that vuvuzelas can have negative effects on people’s eardrums when they are exposed to the high-intensity sound for a certain amount of time. Vuvuzelas produce an average sound pressure of 113 decibels at two metres from the horn’s opening. Practised players can generate an awesome 127 decibels, a level humans rarely encounter outside war zones or Twisted Sister concerts,” he cautioned.
Many football fans like Swaraj Bose of Malda described the vuvuzela as “an instrument from hell” after famous columnist Jon Qwelane claimed that they experienced difficulties hearing the commentators’ voices as they were drowned by the sound. “Viewers can hear only the sounds of the vuvuzelas. The broadcasting corporations should immediately examine possibilities to filter the ambient noise while maintaining game commentary,” Bose demanded.
However, many fans welcomed Blatter’s declaration that Fifa had no plans to ban the trumpet during the 2010 games. “The Fifa head has rightly remarked that we should not try to Europeanise an African World Cup. African and South Africa football is all about noise, excitement, dancing, shouting and enjoyment,” said Sanatan Bhadra of Islampur.
His colleague, Mukul Das, said critics of the vuvuzela should not watch the matches on television. “The irony of it all is that most of those denouncing the vuvuzela’s democratic right to be blown are part-time football fans who, under normal circumstances, avoid setting foot anywhere near a soccer match because it is too ‘dangerous’,” he said.
“For everyone who loves it, there’s another person who says it should be banned,” Das observed. “I sit there and watch the football on TV and I don’t even hear the vuvuzelas. My wife sits next to me and she can’t bear to listen to the sound. The fact is, you may love vuvuzelas, you may hate them, but you cannot ignore them. They have become an indispensable part of modern football.” (or just a passing fad ?!!)