Guinea played a brand of the game that could not be cat­e­gorised, but it was all fun

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games -

For all the pres­sure foot­ball ‘doesn’t’ put on teenage play­ers — they’re sup­pos­edly here to learn to play the game bet­ter — win­ning seems to mat­ter a lot. Yes­ter­day, Ger­many — of the great­est youth sys­tem over­haul in his­tory — must have been un­der some pres­sure to get a win af­ter a 0-4 maul­ing at the hands of a beau­ti­ful Iran team. A draw would have got­ten them through, but teenagers gen­er­ally don’t play for a draw. Ger­man coach Chris­tian Wueck said as much at the end of a tir­ing win. “It was very hard to come to this game af­ter the match against Iran. The re­ac­tion in Ger­many was not so good. So the pres­sure was very high on the play­ers. The vic­tory against Guinea was more about con­fi­dence be­cause the num­ber of chances (to score) were very high.” And they had to con­tend with one of the most con­fus­ing things in such youth tour­na­ments — a team of shape-shifters, a team that ad­heres to no (or a noth­ing-like) for­ma­tion. Guinea were play­ing kamikaze ball at its finest and with a phys­i­cal, tire­less per­for­mance nearly made a dent in the Ger­man psy­che. Whether it was in­tended — this con­stant switch­ing of po­si­tions — is not easy to say. It prob­a­bly wasn’t.

“First of all we have to sleep and we have to re­cu­per­ate,” said the Ger­man coach on what they in­tend to do be­fore fac­ing Colom­bia in the round of 16. Guinea’s run­ning boys prob­a­bly had a bit to do with that. The Ger­mans came out more hun­gry, press­ing hard in mid­field. The first ball was lobbed down the left in a clear in­tent of at­tack as four bod­ies rushed at the de­fence. But they were also play­ing with a bit more risk, push­ing up a full-back leav­ing three at the back but a crowded ball­win­ning mid­field. Point is, we could see what they were try­ing.

Then Guinea’s ver­sion of to­tal foot­ball took over. The cen­tre-backs were often fac­ing a three or four-man Ger­man at­tack on the break - ex­cept it wasn’t al­ways the same two play­ers. And it wasn’t like just the full-backs slot­ting in, Sey­douba Cisse - listed as a for­ward in the team sheet but play­ing a mid­field role - was often seen there. Costa Rica Guinea Niger Spain Iran Ger­many Brazil Korea DPR

The cen­tre-backs made deep runs into the op­po­si­tion box and the mid­field­ers and for­wards were more than happy to play round-robin. The Ger­mans prob­a­bly had a hard time fig­ur­ing out who they ex­pected to show up where. The gaps in or­gan­i­sa­tion were pasted over by the sheer pace with which they chased down balls, the will­ing­ness to do so barely damp­ened over 90 min­utes.

Try­ing to fig­ure out a for­ma­tion was too dif­fi­cult even for t hose wit h a bi rd’s eye view of things. The pri­mary ob­jec­tive seemed to be to fill up any void while in pos­ses­sion, no mat­ter where you started out in the line-up. But of course that also left them open to be­ing pried open, which they were far­toooften.AndthisGer­manat­tackis amongth­e­finestinthecom­pe­ti­tion,but with­aprob­le­mof­ef­fi­ciency.“Ithinkwe have a team that is strong in of­fence,” said coach Wueck. “We had five or six chances in the first two matches and on­cea­gain­we­hadalotofchances.This is the part we have to im­prove (to be more ef­fi­cient in front of goal).”

Se­nior FIFA com­pe­ti­tions of­fer much bet­ter qual­ity for the spec­ta­tor. Ex­cept on a day like this. When the care­less aban­don of what the English call Sun­day League Foot­ball (mi­nus the tired and ag­ing bod­ies) makes it to a World Cup. Edge of the seat en­ter­tain­ment.

CROWDPLEASER

As a side­note, the thing most com­mon be­tween pro­fes­sional play­ers and these young boys seem to be how much at­ten­tion they pay to fans. A Ger­man player went about the sta­dium hand­ing out goalie gloves to the crowd. A teenager, hand­ing out sou­venirs. Makes ab­so­lute sense at a World Cup of course.

— Sam Abra­ham

Ger­many (white) and Guinea play­ers vie for the ball —PTI

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