Daily Archives: July 1, 2014

Germany 2-1 Algeria (AET): Algeria press and counter-attack brilliantly

“Germany’s quality eventually shone through, but Algeria produced one of the best tactical performances of the tournament. Mats Hummels was out injured, so Jogi Low moved Jerome Boateng into the middle and brought Shkodran Mustafi into the side at right-back. Vahid Halilhodzic again made huge changes to his side – he switched five players from the XI which drew against Russia, including four of his front six. Interestingly, he didn’t select anyone who was a booking away from suspension. Algeria had a very obvious gameplan here, and with more composure in the final third, it could have resulted in a famous victory…” Zonal Marking

Mourning Algeria’s Cruel, Beautiful Loss to Germany
“Is there such a thing as a beautiful defeat? If I believed there was, I would call the Algeria-Germany match just that. Algeria played gorgeously, joyfully, unafraid, and unfettered. And Germany was clearly afraid, on the defense for much of the game, a little surprised perhaps to be facing one of their toughest challenges in recent history from the Fennecs. For many, many minutes, it felt like Algeria would score, and would win. And yet there was, as we all watched, that terrible feeling in the gut that comes whenever a team you are supporting is playing Germany. The sense of the inevitable: the gloom of knowing that, however much you might dream of something different, there is a relentless truth in the World Cup: more often than not, Germany wins no matter how hard you pray for something else to happen.” New Republic

Germany pushed to the limit
“Here are three thoughts from Germany’s hard-fought 2-1 win over Algeria in the World Cup round of 16. 1. History drives Algeria on, but not far enough. History didn’t repeat itself, but it did have a few echoes. After a somewhat harsh elimination for an admirable Algeria side, Germany will meet France in a heavyweight quarterfinal. The game did not involve all the controversy of 1982, but it was still difficult not to feel some sympathy for the North African side. They pushed Germany to the edge, and almost out of the competition.” ESPN

World Cup: Germany survive scare against Algeria to reach quarterfinals
“Extra-time goals from Mesut Ozil and Andre Schurrle spared Germany’s blushes against Algeria in the World Cup last 16 tie at Port Alegre on Monday. Following 90 minutes of stalemate it was Joachim Low’s side who finally broke the deadlock in the second minute of extra time when Thomas Muller squared the ball for Schurrle to cleverly back heal the ball past goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi. Ozil drilled in a shot to double the lead in the final minute of the second extra period before Abdelmoumene Djabou pulled one back for Algeria in injury time. It was a cruel end to what was a brave performance by Vahid Halilhodzic’s side who were looking to settle an old score from the 1982 World Cup.” CNN

The Secret History Behind Today’s Algeria-Germany #WorldCup Match
“Today, Germany’s Mannschaft will face Algeria’s Fennecs at Porto Alegre, after both teams made it through the group stage of the FIFA World Cup. Though it has yet to be played, the match is already being hailed as an historic, even epic, event. Why? Because it represents the first time the Algerian squad has progressed to the final sixteen at a World Cup. Its larger symbolism, however, is rooted in a longstanding Algerian resistance to French colonialism, which underpinned the secret history of Algerian-German football relations.” Imperial & Global Forum


How World Cup Goalies Prepare for and Handle Penalty Shoot-Outs

“The World Cup’s knockout stage began this weekend. From here on out, each match must have a winner and a loser, and if the game is tied after 120 minutes of open-field play, it gets decided by penalty kicks. On Saturday, Brazil played Chile in the very first of these matches, in the tournament’s Round of 16, and it ended with the most dramatic penalty shoot-out since Italy beat France in the 2006 World Cup final. You got the sense that everything Brazil had put into hosting this year’s event was at stake—not just the money or the national pride Brazilians take in their own soccer superiority, but also the public’s tolerance for the outright absurdity and lack of humanity of the government’s investment in the tournament. The Brazilian team doesn’t have to win the World Cup to keep its people’s political dissatisfaction at bay, but it has to get pretty close. The Round of 16 is not close.” Vanity Fair

Notes on Penalty Kicks and Other Neuroses
“These are terrible times in which the ‘beautiful game’ can be reduced to Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Not since the summer of 1914 has the world had such reason for anxiety and neurotic behavior. I am referring to the dreaded penalty shoot-out that threatens to consume the progress of our World Cup now that it has reached its knockout stages. Famously it is the goalkeeper who is alleged to be anxious over the penalty kicks. But in truth we are seeing great and brave players hiding from their coaches in the huddle and begging to be excused the nightmarish duty.” New Republic

Costa Rica 1-1 Greece: Costa Rica through on penalties despite playing an hour with ten men

“The Costa Rica miracle continues – they’re through to the quarter-finals after a shoot-out victory over Greece. Jorge Luis Pinto named his first-choice XI, having rotated for the final group game. Fernando Santos continued with Georgios Samaras upfront following his great performance against Ivory Coast, while Georgios Karagounis continued in midfield. Greece had the better of this game, even before Oscar Duarte’s red card.” Zonal Marking

World Cup: France sees off Nigeria to reach last eight

“Redemption is not easy to attain. Four years on and the scars still remain. When France’s footballers left for Brazil, they were under no illusions — it cannot happen again. At South Africa 2010, ‘Les Bleus’ became a laughing stock as players and coaches clashed, strikes were threatened and results embarrassed a nation. Players were suspended, the entire country waged war on a group which had imploded and exited at the group stage after failing to win a single game. Four years ago the picture was grim.” CNN

France 2-0 Nigeria: France prosper when returning to a one-striker system
“France took a while to show their best football, but dominated the final half hour. Didier Deschamps’ big decision was whether to start striker Olivier Giroud or left-winger Antoine Griezmann, with Karim Benzema’s position dependent upon that choice. Giroud got the nod. Stephen Keshi was without Michael Babatunde through injury, and his latest attempt to solve the problem at number ten was playing Victor Moses there, behind Emannuel Emenike. Nigeria started strongly and dominated the first quarter of the game, but France slowly showed their quality.” Zonal Marking

Exit Happiness: Nigeria’s World Cup Run Comes to an End
“’I haven’t heard the halftime yet,’ said Obie, one of the many Nigeria supporters on hand for the Super Eagles’ watch party at the Nigerian comfort food spot Buka. He motioned toward a projection of the currently level France-Nigeria match and the broadcasters breaking it down at halftime, albeit inaudibly. ‘We’re so loud.’ Noise is a good thing to keep in mind when thinking about Nigeria’s presence in the round of 16 — noisy in appearance because of its lime green jerseys, noisy because of Africa’s waning presence in the World Cup and the rallying cries joining the Eagles, noisy because of the atrocities happening in the northern part of their home country.” Grantland

World Cup Players to Know: France’s Midfield General, Paul Pogba
“… But the brief on Pogba is thus: grew up outside of Paris, joined Manchester United at 16 under allegations that the club had, in effect, bribed his parents, played three games for the Red Devils in three years, refused to pen a new contract in 2012 because, he says, Sir Alex Ferguson “didn’t show me enough that he wanted me in his squad,” joined Juventus on a free transfer, was painted in the press by his former coach as a bigger problem than he was worth, and then promptly became one of the best midfielders on the planet.” Grantland

World Cup Tactical Analysis | France 2-0 Nigeria: Super Eagles’ impressive possession game not enough
“Paul Pogba lead a determined France through to the quarter finals against a Nigerian team that wasn’t going to give up that easily with Enyeama between the sticks. An own goal at the end however, killed the dreams of the African country that was never afraid to dream.” Outside of the Boot

World Cup Tactical Analysis | Netherlands 2-1 Mexico: Oranje win battle of individuals

“Coming into the tournament, this was a clash that a lot of people didn’t expect to see. Netherlands weren’t really looked at as favourites in the way they are now, with many people doubting their ability to get out of the group. The same doubts were cast over Mexico, with people looking at Croatia as a team that could cause an upset or two. However, both these teams really overwhelmed all expectations in the group phase. Mexico earned a creditable draw against Brazil, while easing past their equals, Croatia. Netherlands stunned the world with their win over Spain and won all their group games to set up this clash.” Outside of the Boot

Match Report: On Yesterday’s Greek Tragedy

“In the end, not even Greece’s Gods could save her. It seems that the penalty shoot-out belongs so squarely and brutally in the realm of chance that it was beyond even their powers of intervention. For once in a high-stakes match, she had been the better side. But she had proved unable to kill off the surprisingly meek Costa Ricans, who had been playing since the 66th minute with 10 players. The Central American team was able to hold on until the end of extra time and relief at this seemed to turn into boundless confidence during the penalties. The Greeks matched them goal for goal until the fourth, when the Costa Rican keeper Keylor Navas produced a spectacular one-handed save to deny Fanis Gekas. The next shot sent Costa Rica into the quarterfinals for the first time in its history and left Greek fans tasting an unfamiliar flavour: the bitterness of undeserved defeat.” New Republic