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