Archive for the ‘World Cup '10’ Category

Third place game – Uruguay versus Germany

Does he have enough in the tank to get a goal or two to challenge for the golden boot?

93:00 – WOW. Forlans kick hits the wood work and the game is over. What a great game. Both teams deserving of their final places…Paul is right again! See you tomorrow for the final.

93:00 – Free kick for Uruguay 20 yards from goal.

2 minutes left. Uruguay pressing

88:00 – Boateng is having a great game both defensively and offensively as he initiates  a move that Kiessling had a golden opportunity to score but skies the ball from 10 yards out.

82:00 – GOOOOOOAAALLLL – Khedira heads it in off some rebounds from a corner. Sadly for Uruguay Suarez wasn’t there on the line to punch it out as that was in his wheelhouse. Germany 3 – Uruguay 2

80:00 – Boateng sends in a lovely cross but Kiessling is inches away from connecting. Really hope this goes to penalties.

76:00 – Kiessling entered the game a couple of minutes ago and his first chance.

67:00 – This game is fantastic. So open and great that it’s on ABC.

63:00 – Suarez sends in a howitzer that Butt does well to save (apparently the commentators are pronouncing the keepers name “boot”…sigh).

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2010 Tactical Review: The Triumph of Cruyff

This is post by TSG Writer Mr. Tuesday

Cruyff, honing his education...

The Netherlands are in their first World Cup final since 1978 yet the shadow of their greatest player, Johan Cruyff, probably hangs more heavily over their Spanish opponents. Oddly, Barcelona’s new president has stripped Cruyff of his honorary title at the club at what seems to be the very height of his legacy. This not to say that this piece is about how “total football” has been reborn. It’s rather that it’s underlying concepts (and a touch of Cruyff’s genius) have been completely assimilated into the modern game.

Cruyff said that “Football is a simple game. It’s just very hard to play it simple.”

Spain’s simplicity, their constant movement off the ball, their instinctive play from a collection of players who have played together for years at club level, their intense pressing after losing possession are quite characteristic of total football.

Their lack of directness, their sometime inability to expand space on the pitch, to exploit space their opponents concede in wide areas to create scoring opportunities from crosses that go into the box are not.

According to Cruyff, “football is a game of time and space.” Both components are constantly in flux. The silky skills of Xavi and Iniesta expand time when they have the ball only for time to be compressed by the intensity of their pressing when it’s lost. While Spain may have power–this power over time–they sometimes struggle to create the space they need to find scoring opportunities.

The Netherlands have few intricate patterns.

Instead they’re replaced by slide-rule passes from Sneijder and slashing running with the ball from Robben. They are always seemingly in haste when in possession but seem to hardly need a moment to create a goal through their direct and expansive style of play. Out of possession, Van Bommel and De Jong will compress space in an attempt to overcome the Spanish midfield’s ability to expand time.

But this isn’t The Last Airbender, so let’s get on with the tectonic tactical shifts that have been on display over the last month, loosely linked to the patron saint of World Cup 2010, Johan Cruyff:

Decline of 4-4-2

“You can’t play dominant football with a 4-4-2 system. The numbers (triangles) on the field don’t match up.” Johan Cruyff

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The Spanish Armada is sailing its way to World Cup glory!

I wonder if they vacation together?

I wrote an article a couple of weeks before the World Cup, stating why Spain wouldn’t win. One can read it here, but the gist of it states that Spain are an amazing team, but only have one method of playing, and until they come up with a plan B or C, will not be lifting the trophy July 11th.

Yesterday during their semifinal against Germany, they began to do just that.

What I wrote in the earlier post was that they needed to mix up their attacking. They play lovely, seductive passing football and are always looking for that sexy pass through the center of defense on to an on rushing striker to slide the ball in the back of the net.

They rarely try and go over the top or play the long ball (and why would you with pass masters Xavi and Iniesta running the show). Nor do they run hard at their opponents and try and dribble around them like Messi and CO. They also don’t play quick, counter attacking football, that Germany was destroying their opponents with up until yesterday.

Spain’s Plan A is to keep possession and pass the ball around and around until they find the combination of a penetrating run and pass. Against a well disciplined defensive side like Switzerland, this method was shut down. They were forced out wide and the Swiss defenders dealt with any high ball easily. Benaglio made some fine saves, but Spain’s closest chance came from an Alonso thunderbolt from about 25 yards out that hit the woodwork. They got caught out and Switzerland were 1-0 winners.

Pedro was instrumental in the win over Germany and will need to have a similar game if Spain are to beat the Dutch

With the exception of Chile, Spain’s run to the semis were against defensive minded teams. Not surprisingly, they won all those games cautiously, taking time to break down the stout defense in front of them. In the knockout rounds, they’ve won each game 1-0 with their goals coming in the final third of the game.

Against Germany, they finally came up with options. They started off trying to penetrate down the middle (Plan A), but once the German CB’s nullified that threat and pushed them out wide, they attacked on the ground (instead of in the air) from the wings (Plan B). They also started taking shots from outside the box with Pedro and Alonso going close several times (Plan C).

Before the goal, there was a series of chances in the 57th minute that started from an outside shot by Pedro which was well saved by Neuer. The rebound was picked up by Alonso who laid it off to Iniesta who went to the byline, cut back, and sent in cross that Villa was inches away from sliding the ball into the back of the net. The Germans had no idea how to defend this attack, as they had to come out to try and stop Pedro’s shot (his previous ones were either inches wide or had brought out saves from Neuer), which opened up space for Iniesta to pop in behind and set up Villa.

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Semifinal number 2 – Germany versus Spain

The greatest beneficiary to Ballacks injury, the Pig Boss is finally playing to the abilities everyone expected him to 4 years ago.

Spain versus the freaky deaky Dutch…what a final!


Paul’s streak is still on as he screws the Mannschaft with his long tentacles. We WILL have a new world cup winner.

3 minutes of extra time

89:00 – Torres showing a bit of skill but he’s still missing a step or two…well done Rafa.

86:00 – Tubbs and Crockett seemed to have pipped down a bit after I corrected them on why a play 30 minutes earlier was not offside. Luckily Martin Tyler agreed with me.

85:00 – Pedro off, Silva on.

82:00 – Pedro has a golden chance to make it two – zero as he could have shot or passed to a WIDE OPEN Torres… instead he chose to lose the ball. Torres must be screaming ” I’M NOT THAT COLD”

81:00 – The ladies and the odd man scream with joy as Torres comes on for the divine soul patch.

80:00 – Soothing chants of ole ole from the female contingent of Spanish fans…It’s like the sounds of sirens. Meanwhile Germany pressing forward. It’s actually moments like these when they need Ballack. YUP I said it.

75:00 – Well that was different then Spain’s usual method of attack. It was in the h(air)!

73:00 – GOOOOOOAAAALLLLL. PAU GASOL...I mean Puyol with a thumping header from a Xavi cross. Keeper had no chance. Spain 1 – Germany 0

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Semifinal – The Netherlands versus Uruguay

Quietly the best player in the world!


95:00 – Everyone thinks the game is over but Van Bommel gets a yellow.

94:00 – Nervy times for the Oranje!

92:00 – GOOOAAALLLLL. Its not over till its over! Periera. Uruguay 2 – Dutch 3

88:00 – Back to the Bloody Mary. It had an asparagus in it instead of a string bean or celery. That’s a point for the Phoenix. Unfortunately they are the Uruguay in this competition as Danny Coyles is winning the Bloody Mary off 3-1.

86:00 – RVP intercepts the ball well and lays of to a rushing Robben who brings the ball into the penalty area but his receding hairline tries to be too cute, and he fails to chip Muslera who comes out well.

84:00 – In the possibly the most asinine move of the tournament, Uruguay take of Forlan off and replace him with Fernandes…. please explain!

83:00 – There is no way Muslera is allowed to legally drink in the US. He looks like he is about 7 years old.

78:00 – Bloody mary is much better now that I 1. Doused it in Tabsaco and 2. Drank half of it.

77:00 – If any team can come back its Uruguay. They’re very very good at switching mentalities and will go on the offensive. Problem is…will they get caught out at the back.

73:00 – GOOOAAAAAALL – ROBBEN and his receding hairline heads powerfully home after a great cross from Kuyt. He was unmarked and froze the keeper. Dutch 3 – Uruguay 1

70:00 – GOOOAAAAAL Sneijder. The “best player” in the world sends a slowish dribbler that might have bounced of RVP into the corner of the net. That was not offside as RVP was level. Dutch 2 – Uruguay 1

68:00 – Robben gets a golden chance to go up but his shot is skied over the bar after Muslera punches a rebound

67:00 – Forlan sends a lovely dipping free kick into the bottom corner but Stekelenburg is up to the task and parries it away for a corner.

62:00 – So am the Phoenix who have a lovely bar staff and decent food but their Bloody Mary’s do not compare to those of Danny Coyles. Their saving grace is that they come in a MASSIVE glass which is reminiscent of something from the container store….but I had to add my own tabasco. Also Danny Coyles come with more veggies!

59:00 – The Dutch are not communicating with each other as Van de Vaart as all the time in the world but is tackled fairly from behind. A little  “HEY WATCH OUT” would have helped.

51:00 – Apparently Cavani has an Orthodontist. He flashed his pearly whites due to a no call and showed the world a mouthful of metal.

47:00 – We’re back on and its all tied up. I believe the Dutch are getting more than they bargained for.


47:00 – Sneijder sends a beautiful ball to Kuyt whose diving header goes wide. The idiots in the bar scream for offside not knowing the rules at all. Almost threw my Guinness at them!

41:00 GOOOOAAAAL. FORLAN. Another spectacular long range effort. Stekelenburg could have probably done better but that shot was swerving the whole time. Great power and control by the Atletico forward. Uruguay 1 – Dutch 1

36:00 – Uruguay might be labeled properly as a defensive team but they are remarkable at changing tempos and are now all offense. The dutch are defending well though.

32:00 – I have a feeling this will turn into a bit of a circus of game with at least 1 person being sent off.

28:00 – Well that was a boot to the head for De Zeeuw as a bicycle kick goes awry and he gets a BOOT TO THE FACE! The argy bargy is a result of that kick but unclear why.

27:00 – ARGY BARGY!

22:00 – I don;t think anyone expected that from the 35 year old left back!

18:00 –  GOOOOOOAAAAAALL. GVB (Jon Remucal..sic )the captain with a SPECTACULAR SHOT that sails over everyone and into the back of the net. He was the most surprised person in the stadium! Netherlands 1 – Uruguay 0

17:00 – RVP robs a lazy Pareira but no one is in the box and three defenders close him down quickly.

11:00 – Forlan and Cavini are making intelligent runs but they’re not in sync. They have Suarez to thank for that!

10:00 – Kuyt showing some skill as he rounds 2 Uruguayan defenders and sends in a cross that is skied in the air by a defenseman. Ball comes back to Kuyt whose second cross ends up in Muslera’s hands.

3:00 – Kuyt with volley that sails over the bar. He should have done better as he had time and space but as expected he is everywhere on the pitch. Harkes claims he’s the first person on his team sheet….hmmmmm I would take that Wesley guy first, then that Arjen fellow.

TWEEEEEEEET and Uruguay kick it off.


GVB and Forlan exchanging pennants…i wonder what happens to those.


Odd, a random guy wearing a French jersey in the crowd.


Line ups

Uruguay: 1-Fernando Muslera; 3-Diego Godin, 6-Mauricio Victorino, 5-Walter Gargano, 16-Maximiliano Pereira, 22-Martin Caceres, 15-Diego Perez, 11-Alvaro Pereira, 17-Egidio Arevalo, 7-Edinson Cavani, 10-Diego Forlan.

Netherlands: 1-Maarten Stekelenburg; 12-Khalid Boulahrouz, 3-John Heitinga, 4-Joris Mathijsen, 5-Giovanni van Bronckhorst; 7-Dirk Kuyt, 6-Mark van Bommel, 10-Wesley Sneijder, 14-Demy de Zeeuw, 11-Arjen Robben; 9-Robin van Persie.


Uruguay have done well to get here but haven’t beaten any “big team” to get this far where as the other three have beaten at least one of the traditional footballing powerhouses. Does that even matter?


Well it’s down to 4. Uruguay and Suarez’s new hand of god versus the Oranje Machine. Not your fathers Dutch team but effective none the less.

Spain: Robotic?, Germany: Enjoyable?

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.

Ozil: Playing with panache....

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.

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Quarterfinal – Spain versus Paraguay

Larissa Riquelme said she would run naked through the streets if Paraguay win it all...Go PARAGUAY!

PEEEEEEP PEEEP PEEP and Spain are through.

90:00 – Spain break with a 3-3. Pedro crosses to Villa who traps and shoots but it is masterfully saved by Villar.

88:00 – Casillas fumbles a routine shot and Santa Cruz is there for the rebound and Casillas makes amends by blocking it well.

83:00 – GOOOOOOAAAAAALLL. VILLA. Wow. Iniesta waltzes through the midfield from Iniesta, lays it off to Pedro whose shot hits the post but bounces out to an on rushing Villa, whose shot hits both posts before going in. That was lucky but how exciting. Spain 1 – Paraguay 0

77:00 – I think this game needs to go to penalties…just for fun.

75:00 – Xavi comes close with an outside shot. They need to do more of that. Pedro on for Spain.

73:00 – Internet seems to be singing (way to Jinx myself). Spain need to change it up some. Draw out the defenders with some outside shooting.

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