Argentina, Germany, World Cup

German depth and genius won them the World Cup

IMG_4184This world cup final was one to behold, many many people (including me), were watching with a hopeful eye, wishing that Leo Messi would bring glory to Argentina by beating Germany (like Maradona in 86), and not just cement his legendary status, but allow him to be crowned as the best player of all time. But if one thing was proven by today’s result, it’s that football is a team sport, and every member of Germany has stepped up at one point or another to offer a decisive game winning moment… More on this later…

Germany Celebration World Cup pic copyThrough the first half of the game it became clear that Argentina had the edge, as Messi, Lavezzi and Pérez ran at Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels. This opened up space for crosses to Gonzalo Higuaín, and although he was caught offside for one of his finishes, I thought i was a nice indication of things to come.  Unfortunately for them, Argentina weren’t able to capitalize on many of those runs, and in the second half were also halted. That said, Messi played really well behind the top striker, it allowed him space using his dribbling and create chances from midfield (he should play the same role behind Saurez at Barcelona this year).

Towards the end of the second half, Germany’s attack was at it’s best, taking advantage of a tired Argentine defense. But ultimately, neither team could find a goal by the end of 90 minutes. And, in extra time it was really clear that Argentina couldn’t attack full steam ahead as it would have been a risk for their defense. It’s worth mentioning that a huge part of their defensive success was due to Javier Mascherano, who had the World Cup of his life – his performances have been top notch and have proven that he’s still in his prime at the defensive midfield position.

When Mario Götze scored in extra time, one thing became very clear: Germany have more depth Gotze Germany pic for blogthan any other team in this tournament. While Argentina also has a lot of attacking talent, they weren’t able to effectively replace Di Maria, whereas when Marco Rues went down for Germany, they still had more than enough players to come on and play well enough to replace him. Some of their other players didn’t even have a chance to shine at this World Cup due to their massive amount of depth and talent. For example, Julian Draxler didn’t have any role on this team/nation, yet he would have started for most of the others that battled it out for the cup. Germany proved that the World Cup is a battle of attrition- they have such an experienced and well disciplined squad – their team has gotten so far in previous tournaments and failed, yet this time they were more than ready to take on every challenge that was handed to them.

Leo Messi Argentina pic for blogI’m not sure how this loss will affect Messi’s legacy, especially as he won the Golden Ball, an award given to the most excellent player at the World Cup. All considered, he played admirably through each match, even despite the fact that he didn’t score after the group stages. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t produce a moment of brilliance today to take the life out of the German squad. Furthermore, his determination and drive to show up on such a large stage was extremely apparent today – He was awake, ready, and motivated as he took on the German defense more than once all by himself. Gonzalo Higuaín also played well throughout the tournament, although today he had a difficult time, missing an easy opportunity in the first half when the ball was essentially passed to him for a one on one with Neuer (a moment that I’m sure will haunt him for years to come).

But anyways, congrats to Germany for a great performance at this year’s World Cup!

Also, attention to American readers – please follow The Soccer Dice on twitter for a chance to win a new Adidas World Cup Soccer ball (just click the twitter link above, then click follow, and you’re entered for a chance to win. A random winner will be selected in the next five days and I will message them for address details to send over the ball. Cheers!)


Germany, World Cup

Is Germany overrated? … Or are they misusing their players?

Jerome and Per pic for blogIt’s difficult to assess Germany’s play so for in this World Cup, and here’s why: 1, I don’t know if they would have dominated Portugal had Pepe not stupidly gotten a red card, 2, Germany tied Ghana (totally unexpected), 3, Germany beat the US one to zero (although they did control possession the entire game, and it was raining) – But still, have the Germans been as dominate as everyone accuses them of being? It’s a question worth exploring.

Germany’s an interesting team, today vs Algeria their defense seemed out of tune, and while this could be because Hummels could not start, I think it’s worth investigation. Per Mertesacker is not a fast player, and neither are Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Höwedes, furthermore, all three of them are natural center backs playing in a four man back line with Shkodran Mustafi – who is also not the most agile player in the world…

If you take that information into consideration and think about Germany’s first half display German team pic for blogagainst Algeria, one thing stood out for me more than anything else – the German midfield and attack didn’t have fullbacks overlapping on the right and left sides of the pitch to open up the field. And I’ll explain why that is a problem: Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos are not midfield maestros that can dribble past a player or two with creativity that disrupts defenses and start attacks… They are both incredible midfielders, although they let Ribery and Robben do most of the creative work on Bayern – and Germany simply doesn’t have players (like Robben and Ribery) for Kroos and Schweinsteiger to supply the ball to. Furthermore, Lahm is not Pirlo, and can’t start attacks from the deep lying midfield position that he holds and has played for Bayern as well. Let me make my point in another way: FC Bayern are so successful because Alba and Rafinha support the attack, plus Robben and Ribery are World class players that plat at a level that Özil and Götze haven’t reached yet.

Germany looked shaky today, and had a lot of trouble dealing with Algeria’s fast paced players. Germany needed to adjust Lahm pic for blog– they need to start playing Lahm at fullback, and allow him to overlap on the right to allow Götze more space to operate and be creative – and the same can be said for Özil – he also needs players to overlap him on the left… Otherwise Kroos and Schweinsteiger will continue to take long shots instead of working the ball around to their playmakers on the wings…  If Lahm does switch to fullback for the rest of the tournament, Germany should use Sami Khedira as a defensive midfielder in front of Mertesacker and Boateng to shore up their defense.

When André Schürrle replaced Götze at half-time of their game today against Algeria, Germany seemed a bit more offensively equipped, and I think this is because he dribbles less than the likes of Götze and Özil, plus he’s a bit more athletic than either of them as well. But still, with all the fuss made about Germany, they should be more dominant than they were today as I thought that Algeria actually outperformed them for the better part of the first 90 minutes. Furthermore, Schürrle’s goal proved that he should start (he should also start regularly for Chelsea). Now that it’s all said and done, Germany can rest easy… But they can’t rest on their laurels and must learn from their performance in extra time that Lahm’s ability as fullback is crucial to their success.