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2010 FIFA World Cup: Argentina Versus Germany Has All The Makings Of A Legend

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2010 FIFA World Cup: Argentina Versus Germany Has All The Makings Of A Legend
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Match Preview:   ARGENTINA versus GERMANY

Stage:   Quarterfinal

Winner Plays Versus:   Paraguay or Spain

Time:  1630h GMT +1

Overview:   One can say, and many are saying that this is a final-before-the-final. Germany and Argentina meet again after an Argentina team dominated most of the game, but was eliminated on penalties by the hosts during World Cup 2006. In South Africa both Germany and Argentina have been neutral fan favourites, but both have shown weakness.

Diego Maradona’s improvisation versus Joachim Löw’s massively organized national team program are not the only elements that presents the watching world a fascinating clash of civilizations.

The two teams are similar in one aspect though... they have both played some of the most entertaining attacking football in this tournament, and one could say both deserve to reach the Semis.

FIFA World Ranking:  Currently Argentina is seventh and Germany is sixth in the world.

Venue:   The magnificent Green Point Stadium in Capetown, probably one of the most mythic venues of this cup so far, hosts this immensely important encounter. Both the camera work and the feeling of this arena, located on the sea shore with towering mountains visible behind it, have been superb, and I rank Green Point as the most interesting stadium in the tournament.

Referee:  Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan coldly refereed the opening match of South Africa and Mexico, and then coldly refereed the Algerian-English draw. He seems to be a “play-on” referee which could be good for tonight’s game.

Date of Birth: 09.08.1977 31 years young

Height: 183 cm

Occupation: School football instructorwhich means he will be used to chaperoning all of the young kids on the pitch tonight.

Mother tongue: Uzbek

Other languages: English, Russian

International since: 2003

First international: Vietnam-Lebanon (31.03.2004)the phrase “you’ve come a long way baby” somehow comes to mind

Hobbies: Football, swimming, tennis

Fondest memory: 2003 AFC Champions League (China PR); U-20 WC Canada 2007

Historical Match Up:
These two giants of the sport have met a whopping 18 times in competitive games, Argentina winning eight times, with five draws, and five wins to Germany with 25 goals to Argentina and 23 to Germany.

Past World Cups:

1958 in Malmö, Sweden West Germany beat Argentina 3-1 in the Group before going on to a fourth place finish.

1966 in Birmingham saw them draw 0-0 to jointly top the group, before West Germany went on to lose to the English (who eliminated Argentina along the way) in the final.

In 1986, in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, in what is considered by many to be the most riveting World Cup Final in history, Argentina ousted West Germany 3-2 to win the cup. Famously, Germany managed to come back and equalize from 2-0 down only for the legendary Burruchage to score seven minutes before the end of the game and win it for Argentina.

However, in 1990 in Rome in the Estadio Olympico favourites Argentina lost to a unified Germany 1-0 in the Final after an excellent Andres Brehme’s penalty, and impenetrable German defending.

Not until 2006 in the quarterfinals in Berlin did they meet again, with a superbly talented Argentina team dominating the game, before conceding a late goal to Miroslav Klose, who was not see fouling Argentine keeper Abbondanzieri. The 1-1 went to extra time before Esteban Cambiasso missed the key penalty sending Germany to a third place finish, and leaving Argentina with a bitter taste for revenge.

Squad Analysis:

ARGENTINA:

Unofficial Theme Song to Accompany Style of Play:

Argentine Rock legends Los Fabulosos Cadillacs created their hit song “Matador” in honor of Maradona with classic Buenos Aires Rhythms... here is a video  which reminds us of very possibly the greatest goal in history, is followed by the music that Argentina should play to today, and shows more from the genius-turned-coach.

And finally, since the Vuvuzelas often drown out what is certainly one of the World’s most fantastic fan cultures singing “Everyday I love you more... to be Argentine, is a feeling” sung on the streets of Berlin  the day the lost in 2006:

Here is a site  for the Argentina supporters travelling abroad with the name “We are the home team once again!” with loads of examples of fan songs...

Statistics so far:

10 goals for and two against (best in the tournament)

Goals for: zero from penalties, three from outside area, seven from inside

Against: zero from penalty, two from inside area, zero outside

45 fouls committed, 64 suffered including eight yellow cards

Zero penalties given away

56 attacks (19 on left, 22 in the center and 15 from the right)keeping the South American tradition of trying most often through the center.

Seven times offsides

58 percent average ball possession (very good)

393.44 km covered by players (rather low s16th overall and lowest of all teams to reach the last 16)

77 percent pass completion rate (53 percent for long, 33 percent for crosses, 82percent for medium, 79 percent for short, 54 percent for corners)Good on corners, passing could be better but fine.

Most shots on goalLeo Messi with 23 (and hit nothing so far)

Highest player statistical-ratings according to the Castrol Index so far:

Central Defender Martin Demichelis9.62

Left defender Gabriel Heinze9.00

Attacking midfielder Lionel Messi8.84

Captain and defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano8.61

Tactics:   Improvisation is Argentina’s key word. Maradona is more of a psychological coach than a master tactician, and incredibly this has worked at the World Cup so far after persistent failures in qualification which saw 50 different players pass through a struggling Argentina team.

In South Africa, Maradona deployed his secret weapon... the hug which is metaphorical for the great atmosphere in the Argentina camp once the intrigues and politics of Buenos Aires are behind them.

His experimenting with tactics and player, although everyone though it would backfire, and which it almost did against Nigeria in their opening match has so far worked. Now Diego Armando Maradona deploys a very offensive system of 4-1-2-1-2 which is a sort of 4-4-2 diamond formation but without clear wingers. The defence is protected only by Javier Mascherano, and has very little options to cover for suspensions and injuries.

The best defender this team boasts, European Champion Walter Samuel of Inter, has been injured for the past two matches, and the backline has never lined up with the same names twice. Simply put, Maradona’s defence is suspect, and everyone is waiting for it to falter... especially when presented with the first real test in the shape of Germany.

The attack is another story, and has been working formidably with LeoMessi roaming behind a dedicated attacker (Higuain instead of Europe’s top scorer Diego Milito) and the superb Carlos Tevez who scored a phenomenal goal against Mexico and appears to be on top form.

Strengths:  Argentina’s offense looks extraordinary, and is getting stronger from game to game. They will be looking for revenge after the 2006 elimination, a game that many players and certainly most fans clearly remember.

The creativity, ability to attack through numerous means, effectiveness on set pieces, technique and speed should be too much for even Germany to handle.

Weakness:  The defence is exposed, lacks subs, and could still prove a very weak spot in the team, and the goalkeeper Sergio Romero is not World Class but good and was the fifth choice keeper before the qualifications.

Finally, the loss of Javier Mascherano or any central defender is not replaceable, as the team lacks proper substitute coverage.

Key to beating Germany:   Overwhelm the German midfield, which, except for Schweinsteiger struggling with injury, has too few experienced members. As the game against Serbia showed, the Germans are vulnerable on the wings and in the pockets on the corners of the penalty area... send Messi and Tevez down those channels and goals should come. 

Most importantly, don’t underestimate the German attack, and counter-attack (like England). Germany has certainly analyzed and found Argentina’s weaknesses like they did before the England game and will be looking to overwhelm their opposition with goals... Argentina shouldn’t try and sit back.

Missing players:  Walter Samuel could or could not be out with injury still.

Key Squad Members:

Martin Demichelis has been excellent this tournament, and the BayernMunich star knows the young Germans like the back of his hand. Except for his mistake against South Korea, Demichelis has been very solid so far in defence.

Javier Mascherano has been the silent but effective force in Argentina’s midfield, ensuring that the attack can have all the chances it needs and recovering lost balls while slowing counter attacks. The captain adds experience and certainty to the squad with his consistent, quiet yet massive contribution

Leo Messi has played better than during Argentina’s qualifiers with his originally magnificent dribbling and speed, but has failed to find the net yet. He must still up his game if Argentina are to beat Germany, and if he does few will be able to stop his powerful, extraordinary offensive game.

Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid was a surprise choice over European champion Diego Milito, but his four goals have been significant in the Celeste’s advance. He is in prime position to compete with David Villa for top scorer in South Africa... but needs to keep finding the net.

Some of most outstanding bursts of attacking football that Argentina have exhibited originated from Carlos Tevez, who’s power, speed and explosive technique were capped with two goals (although one was offsides) the second of which was one of the best in the tournament from outside the Mexican penalty area. His power will be key to this game.

Weakest Link: Angel di Maria might have had his mind on his impending move to Real Madrid from Benfica and that could explain why this normally effective player has been somewhat absent so far in the tournament. With the transfer behind him can he finally find his form for this crucial game? Otherwise his wastefulness and lack of energy could cost an Argentina which needs “all hands on deck” for this clash.

GERMANY :

Unofficial Theme Song to Accompany Style of Play :

Dark techno group Rammstein signing the German football anthem “VivaKolonia ” as a tribute to Podolski’s well loved club 1.FC.Köln worked against the English so why tinker with a good thing?

Statistics so far :

Nine goals for and two against (second best in tournament behind Argentina)

Goals for: zero from penalty spot, one from outside area, eight from inside

Against: two from inside area

41 fouls committed 42 suffered with seven yellow cards and one second yellow for red (Klose)

Zero penalties given away

54 attacks (13 on left, 15 in the center and 26 from the right through the superb Thomas Mueller)

18 times offsides (a lot... probably due to inexperience of the team)

52 percent average ball possession (good)

76 percent pass completion rate(58 percent for long, 28 percent for crosses, 82 percent for medium, 71 percent for short, 50 percent for corners)especially fantastic for corners

Most shots on goalLukas Podolski leads with 16, two of which were goals

Highest player statistical-ratings according to the Castrol Index so far:

Right wingback and captain Philipp Lahm9.66

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer8.99

Right winger/forward Thomas Mueller8.97

Defensive midfielder Bastian “Schweini” Schweinsteiger8.77

Lukas Podolski8.11

Tactics:  
Germany are opposite to Argentina in more ways than one. The national team is run like a club team, with extensive and regular joint trainings, a fierce competition for first place, and a heavy attention to form and progress of the players rather than a preference for the big names. Only 27 players played for Germany during qualification, and the young generation that is at this World Cup has ousted many of the veterans with superior play.

Germany have heavily departed from tradition, and for the first time since time immemorial represent an attractive, attacking style of football rather than an Italian-like defence and physical approach, and for this they have swayed many neutral fans.

Joachim Löw deploys a perfect example of an attacking 4-2-3-1 with a lone striker (Klose or Cacau) supported by two forwards converted to wingers (Podolski and Mueller) and an attacking midfielder (Mesut Ozil). The four-man defence with slightly offensive wingbacks and four-man offense are linked with two central defensive midfielders (Schweinsteiger andKhedira). The results are evident, with four goals againt England and Australia each... but the system has not worked against more defensiveteams like Serbia or Ghana so well, but Argentina are not defensive.

Strengths:   An outstanding attack that is setting this World Cup on fire. Strong, talented players in every position, an incredible coaching staff and a couple of key veterans in a very young, fast, and skilled team.

Weaknesses:  Inexperience, which could backfire in a big game. Also the defence has been exposed at moments in every game, and against Argentina that could be vital.

Keys to beating Argentina: Don’t give their offense too many opportunities, by shutting down the service from the back and pressing the opponent into their own half. Counter-attacks could be very successful, as Argentina are generous with leaving space in defence. 

If Germany play like they did against England, and Argentina like they did against Mexico then this will be a genuine thriller.

Missing Players:  None

Key Squad Members:

Manuel Neuer has been one of the most convincing goalkeepers in this World Cup, can he make up for his teammates’ inevitable mistakes with a superb performance?

Thomas Mueller and Mesut Ozil were both unknown two seasons ago, and now are surprising the world with unbridled exhibitions of phenomenal talent and sending a vivid warning of Germany’s successful youthprogram and improvement in quality to the World in South Africa. If Argentina is to be defeated, these two offensive players will likely serve the South Americans the knockout blow.

Striker Miroslav Klose might have had a bad season, but he was key in knocking out Argentina in 2006, and his excellent finnishing talents, together with those of Lukas Podolski could be the two factors that expose the uncertain Argentine defence.

Weakest link:  Jerome Boateng has been making countless mistakes on the right and left side of defence, and this could prove costly against Argentina’s attacking expertise sending Germany to join his brother’s Ghanaian elimination last night on the plane back home.

Expected Result:   This game is expected to be highly even with not much separating the two teams. 1-1 is what the pundits predict.

A Slight Surprise : A high scoring game from both teams will be a first in this tournament.

A real shocker:   If either team wins big it will be a surprise.

Obi Wan Asterix Says:  This will be a fireball... and a very hard one to call at that. I am a lifelong Argentina fan, loyal to the country that infected me with my love of football and hating the traditional German anti-football.

However, this young Germany is showing little-to-no sign of the defensive past, and it would not be a complete surprise if they storm past Argentina tonight.... or if they leave it for the next World Cup bowing to a more experienced team and a superb Leo Messi. 

This is the hardest call... but my loyalty is there and Argentina are to take this in a legendary 3-2 game. 

 

 

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