Friday, July 9, 2010

World Cup 2010: Uruguay vs. Germany 3rd and 4th Playoff Tactical Preview and Predictions

Uruguay and Germany will battle it out in the Playoffs for third and fourth place in the World Cup. The match will take place in the stadium named after South Africa's most famous son, the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
The Friendly City will fittingly see, most probably, the friendliest game of the month long tournament as La Celeste Olimpica and Die Mannschaft go head to head for the small matter of being named the third best team in the world, and some £12 million...
And there was you thinking that this match was worthless. The country who finishes third will win £12 million for their federation, while the losers will earn a paltry £11 million for their troubles.
Lo' and behold, Germany and Uruguay have met before in a third and fourth playoff match. That was in 1970 when a goal from the great Wolfgang Overath was enough to separate the teams.

Germany: How They Got There, Form PLD-6 W-4 D-0 L-2 GOALS F-13 A-3
The youngest German squad since the '30s have earned rave reviews for their attacking, style, and flair; it says much about Joachim Loew's new look Germany that they were many neutrals favourites to win the tournament.
In the Group stages they were easily the best team in their section, brushing aside Australia, 4-0, and Ghana, 1-0, while they were unlucky to lose against a fortuitous Serbian team, 1-0.
If anything, the manner of their defeat to Nemanja Vidic's under-performing side garnered them a huge amount of attention, as even with ten men they played their rivals off the park with adventurous football, often only having two defenders at the back as they pushed for an equalizer.
In the knockout stages they met a bewildered and befuddled England team who seemed to be in holiday mode as much as anything else. A 4-1 win ensued.
Then they met Diego Maradona's Argentina in what many hoped would be an extravaganza of attacking football. It was, of sorts, except that all the attacking was done at one end as Germany won 4-0.
Incidentally, Diego and Argentina were met with a heroes welcome when they returned to Argentina. The prevailing sense was that La Albiceleste had died with their boots on and had not betrayed their traditions of attacking and entertaining football, unlike Brazil.
Next up is Spain in the Semi Finals—a one sided affair that showed this young German side the difference between being a contender and a pretender.
Key Player: Thomas Muller
Muller was badly missed against Spain. Without the Bayern Munich wide man Germany basically had no out ball to the right as Piotr Trocowski was a poor replacement. Meaning that all Spain had to do was clamp down on Lukas Podolski on the left, and all of a sudden Germany had to play the ball through the minefield that was the middle of the park.
With Muller on the side, Germany has a player with all the attributes you would associate with a member of their team: power, pace, physical intimidation, technical excellence, and an incredible well-preparedness.
At 6'2" he would be considered too big to leave as a wide player in many footballing nations, and it is testament to the new Germany that the player is allowed to develop at his own pace with his own style, a la Bastian Schweinsteiger who moved from right midfield to central midfield in the last six months to great effect.
The Key To Beating Uruguay:
Frankly, I want tactics to go out the window for this game.
Neither side have anything to lose, and just to see one game where the two teams went at each other like Ali and Foreman would be nice.
If I can't have that, then I guess Germany will have to break down the flanks. Rios and Perez have been immense in this tournament and stay very close to their back four, who've been vulnerable to wing play.
Joachim Loew, Germany coach:
"Obviously we now have to get over our disappointment, lift the players’ spirits and prepare for this game just as seriously as we would any other. We want to finish the World Cup on an upbeat note because, despite losing the semi-final, we’ve had a very good tournament. I’m really proud of my team."

Uruguay: How They Got There , Form: PLD -6 W-3 D-2 L-1 (Goals) F-8 A-5
Uruguay is South America's most successful team at this year's tournament.
Heading into the Quarter Finals, much was being said of how the continent was dominating the competition and how European football was imploding. One week later, Uruguay are all that remains.
And they deserve it too.
They're not exactly the most exciting team in the tournament but they are one of the most honest, with every player sweating blood for the cause, or handling the ball on the line.
They were placed in a favourable group with a French team who was doing their level best to implode, a host who was as excited as they were naive, and Mexico, who had shiny green jerseys.
Seven points, first place in Group A, and a number of standout performances put Oscar Tabarez's team in good stead for a run to the semi finals after England had inexplicably imploded.
First off they they beat South Korea 2-1 with Luis Suarez announcing himself to the world with a virtuoso performance. Then they played Ghana and the same player showed he had just as deft a touch in goal—punching the ball off the line to deny the Black Stars a certain goal with only one second left in the match.
Asamoah Gyan smashed his rushed penalty off the bar, and La Celeste Olimpica were through to the semis with Holland.
Dutch pragmatism won out over an under strength Uruguay side and now, back at full capacity, they face Germany.
Key Player: Luis Suarez
Like Thomas Muller for Germany, you don't know how good something is until it's gone, and Uruguay most definitely missed their focal point against Holland.
The Ajax hit man provides the cutting edge up front, although Diego Forlan is the heartbeat of the team in this World Cup, it is Suarez who is the danger man.
Powerfully built with a touch like velvet, the big striker can play with his back to goal or on the half turn. He has the strength and confidence to hold onto the ball while fending off his markers and bring his teammates into the game.
The Key To Beating Germany:
Frankly, I want tactics to go out the window with this game...
If not, then Uruguay will have to find a way of moving Bastian Schweinsteiger out of position to provide a platform for Diego Forlan to orchestrate their forays into the final third of the pitch.
Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay coach.
"This will be a difficult game, but we’ll go into it with the same attitude and commitment that we showed against the Netherlands. There’s no guarantee of winning, we’re preparing to do everything we can to clinch third place at the World Cup for Uruguay. However, I know Germany will make it very difficult for us, so we’ll have to fight to our last breath if we want to win."

Key Battle: Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez vs. Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller
While many pundits see the battle for the Golden Boot as a straight forward duel between David Villa and Wesley Sneijder, both have 5 goals from 6 games.
The truth of the matter is that Klose, Muller, Forlan, and Suarez all have four goals each, not to mention Klose only being one goal short of tying Ronaldo of Brazil's World Cup record of 15 goals.
And, Mesuit Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Diego Forlan are all in the running for Player of the Tournament having made the shortlist.
A final swansong display by Forlan and Klose of Rocky like proportions is not completely out of this world. This game is likely to be the least intense of the last 62 matches, unless you were watching England, that is.
Final Thoughts:
I'm praying for a classic.
This tournament has been a mediocre World Cup, but even when it's bad it is good. Club football just can't contend with the pressure and intensity of international football and I'd love to see one great game before the tournament winds up on Sunday.
Prediction: Germany 4-2 Uruguay. But in all probability it will be 1-1 draw or a 2-1 win to Germany, who, incidentally, beat Portugal 3-1 in the third and fourth place Playoff in 2006.