German aggression of 2010 is missing in the 2014 World Cup
- The silver lining for German fans rests in the fact that even though the Germans might not be playing as attacking football as they did in 2010, their standard of football is at par with the other teams in 2014.
The German National Football Team may have made it to the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup by beating the fasting Algerians 2-1 in extra time, but they have certainly shown a substantial fall in performance as compared to their previous World Cup expedition in 2010. In South Africa, Germany humiliated both England and Argentina by striking a total of 8 goals against these giants in the knockout stages. When the European nation began its campaign in Brazil, it reflected signs of similar aggression and might by crushing Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal 4-0. The psychological effect of that defeat was so very menacing for the Portuguese that they could never really lift their team’s morale in time to prevent an early exit.
After registering such an impressive triumph in their opening game, one would have expected the Germans to improve on their game and carry forth the goal fest, but that sort of a development is yet to be witnessed. Let us not forget that in the previous three World Cups, the German imprint on the tournament has been such that whoever beat them has eventually won the World Cup.
In 2002 the Brazilians defeated an Oliver Kahn-led Germany 2-0 in the finals, the Azzuris managed to obtain the same score line against Michael Ballack’s squad in the 2006 semi-final and the Spaniards edged past the Bavarians 1-0 in South Africa in 2010. The trend which emerges out of the previous three tournaments is that Germany has been the team to beat and claim the trophy. But this time round, unfortunately for German fans, their side does not appear to be in the same all-conquering form.
Decline in Germany’s performances
Why has there been such a decline in German dominance? One reason could be the fact that the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been an exceptionally tight tournament so far. Fan favourites Brazil were forced into a penalty shootout against Chile to progress to the quarter-finals. The Dutch who were the runners-up last time and thrashed defending champions Spain 5-1 in their inaugural match were also caught up in a nail biting game with Mexico which they only pulled off in the dying minutes of the match.
The same was the case with the French who were frustrated by the brave Nigerians. No team except for Colombia had it easy in their Round of 16 clash and the Germans too couldn’t manage what Colombia did. The silver lining for German fans rests in the fact that even though they might not be playing attacking football like they did in 2010, their standard of football is on par with the other teams in 2014.
The playing conditions, foremost among them being the heat, are favouring teams belonging to Africa and Latin America where players are used to the scorching sun. European teams have suffered immensely because of the tormenting weather conditions and hence, we find no mention of the English, Italians, Portuguese or the Spanish in the quarter-finals. The German side too must have had its tryst with high temperatures in Brazil which has invariably affected their performance on the pitch.
Support for the underdogs
It appears to me that the local Brazilians who swarm the stadiums during most of the matches cheer for the underdogs. In the game against USA, the arena was resonating with chants and slogans of the American fans. This was expected as a large number of American fans have travelled to Brazil to support their team and USA being a rich country with comparatively wealthy citizens, was expected to show up in large numbers.
But what about Algeria which happens to be a relatively poor African nation? Unlike USA, which is located in North America, quite close to Brazil, Algeria happens to fall in the African continent and it takes quite a lot of money and time to get from Algeria to Brazil. Yet, when the Algerians took the pitch against Germany, they were the ones who were being cheered on more rigorously. How does one explain this? This surely means that the local Brazilians are rooting for underdogs to make their team’s path towards its sixth title easier.
I suspect that this thing also occurred in the German game against Ghana. While what happens outside the pitch is largely inconsequential but the atmosphere within the arena can many a time lift the spirit of the players and also demoralize the other team. With the Germans definitely lacking in such support, the road ahead would be tough.
Issues with Bastian Schweinsteiger
There is no denying of the fact that Bastian Schweinsteiger is one of the biggest stars of the German side. He has been very instrumental in helping Germany achieve the third spot in the previous two FIFA World Cups, but this time Schweinsteiger seems to be struggling. It must have been agonizing for German fans to watch their star player walk out of the field in pain with one hand placed on his troubled knee.
There have been some news reports which have stated that Schweinsteiger is sulking as he had been made to sit on the sidelines during the match against Portugal and was only brought on the pitch in the second half against Ghana. Though Schweinsteiger has started the previous two games against USA and Algeria, speculations of internal trouble haven’t yet been squashed. Whatever the reason is, be it Schweinsteiger’s injury or the alleged problems in the locker room, it needs to be sorted out immediately because Schweinsteiger is a key player in the German squad and they cannot march ahead without taking him along.
Let us hope the Germans get their act together in time and Schweinsteiger is fit to participate in their quarter-final match against France which would undoubtedly be the most awaited clash in the quarters, as it would mark the ascendance of one European giant at the cost of the other.Published 01 Jul 2014, 18:38 IST