Saturday, 10 July 2010

My World Cup Team

It took me a while to pick my favorite team of this World Cup, but I'm really happy with my pick. Not only did I select the team with the best football, I was also able to overcome years of prejudice in the process of doing so. Sure, my team is already out of the tournament, but why should that matter? Knock out competitions are never a fool proof way of identifying who the best contender is.
Over the years I have had good reasons to hate the German football team. One of the main reasons was their boring play. The trauma of that boring team winning the 1990 World Cup still lingers on, augmented by them knocking some really nice teams out of the competition on their way.
Most of my antagonism towards the German football team is historically related, though. Yes, I'm talking about the good old war and the holocaust. Are these good enough reasons to dislike a German nation? Not really, yet - as I have experienced when visiting Germany - I have a problem seeing those old people in the street and wondering where they were back in those days. Statistically speaking, many of them must have done something nasty or might have not taken action to prevent nastiness when they should have. I have a problem liking a team that's associated with these people regardless of their minority status in contemporary Germany.
Today's German team seemed to have gone out of its way in countering the above two disadvantages, as if aspiring to help me support them.
First, they completely dispel my 20th century prejudice by fielding players of backgrounds we tend not to associate with Germany. These include including black players, players with a last name like Gomez, and Muslim players of Turkish descent. So much so that Neo Nazis in Germany complain about their national team's nature, supplying it with the best credentials I could have hoped for.
Second, Germany has been playing the most attractive football in the World Cup, period. There is a nice parameter by which to judge their performance: the number of goals they've scored. Spain, the team that beat them to reach the final, scored just seven goals in their entire campaign thus far; Germany, on the other hand, scored four goals in one game, and repeated that act three times. It's not just the goals they've scored, though: Germany's style of play has been pretty attractive to watch for this neutral spectator. They never try to close themselves to defend the score, but rather look for every opportunity to attack. Knowing they don't have the best talent in their ranks they tried to make the most of what they could do through adopting a strategy of speed and area coverage, which worked pretty well for them.
That strategy of the German team is what sets them apart, in my view, from the bulk of the contention. Some teams, like Australia, are inferior to Germany in most respects. Other teams, like Argentina, Netherlands and Spain, are superior in talent. However, look at how those better talented teams have fared: Argentina lacked the managerial skills to reap the benefits. Netherlands, generally my favorite team, show that they have the talent but are way too scared to play the open total football style they're famous for playing, instead playing some boring football that manages to get a significantly inferior team like Uruguay to rattle their cage. And Spain, drowning in talent as they are, only managed to beat Portugal through a goal scored from a blatantly offside position and managed to survive Germany - despite their obviously superior talent and possession dominance - through some questionable referee decisions and a goal scored from a set piece.
The bottom line is that the German football team is unique for this World Cup in being better than the sum of its parts. That is a sign for a well managed team, and that is a quality I admire enough to make the German team my pick of this World Cup's crop.


wile.e.coyote said...

Harald 'Toni' Schumacher thank you for your support, maybe 20 year too late, but never the less it is nice

Moshe Reuveni said...

By now Schumacher is a loser. Didn't come close to winning one race since his comeback.