Love reading the comments on The Shin Guardian.
Great question and follow-ups today on the style of soccer employed by Spain and Germany being almost inverse to their historical way of playing.
I’ll republish it here for discussion.
T-Muck: Germany is just so enjoyable to watch, not that Spain isn’t, but they just refuse to live life on the edge and just go for it. They’re almost like robots.
Matt Mathai: It’s very interesting that you characterize the Spanish as robotic and the Germans as enjoyable to watch. That’s a complete turnaround from the usual descriptions of those sides.
I happen to agree with you completely.
T-Muck: Now the question is what is the reason behind the turnaround? Is it the coaching? The youth of German team who weren’t supposed to get this far? Or the massive expectations of the Spanish team to where they’re playing very carefully almost a don’t screw up mindset?
Shaun, TSG: I would say its a combination of the first two. Youthful exuberance with good coaching. In past years, Germany have always gotten the efficient, robotic “boring” style of play tag, but i think that’s a little unfair.
They’ve had plenty of exciting flair players but they have always played in a manner that beats the opponents. They were actually quite versatile in this way. In the 86 world cup final, down 2-0 they came back (only to lose it) and they did it in a quick slick “beautiful game” like way. 4 years later they efficiently and boringly beat Argentina in the final.
These days with more teams “parking the bus”, they’ve figured out that in order to win, you can’t just score a goal and defend, as so many teams are looking for that counter goal. Instead (like Spain), they need to score more goals than their opponent (such a simple concept that so many teams fail to grasp).
The difference between them and Spain though is that they’re not as predictable (hence the robotic image equated with Spain that you suggested). Spain just do the same thing over and over again. They’re just very good at it and eventually will break you down. All their goals have been fairly similar (exception being Villa’s long range shot of the Chilean keepers mistake).
Germany on the other hand, have had goals from several different players, long range shots, headers, cut backs from the by line and straight down the middle.
I don’t think however, that Spain are playing “carefully” based on expectations. I think they’re doing what they need to get by. I certainly hope they “wake up” in this semi as they will need to score multiple goals with Casillas looking as shaky as he as so far.
Matt Mathai: I think it’s a combination of the youth of the German team – they seem not to know that they’re expected to be afraid of making mistakes – and the caution of the Spanish team caused by unbelievably high expectations. I think the opening loss to SUI did major damage to their psyches. Torres seems to be playing very tight. Sure, fitness plays a part, but I think there’s more to it than that.
I can’t say I’ve ever cheered for a German team, but I love how this one is playing, and I’d like to see that kind of team chemistry rewarded.