Friday, June 09, 2006

World Cup!!!

The world cup has just started, and I finally have the chance to really watch it from starting match to finals, since I missed the previous 2 world cups. In 1998, I was stuck in MP training. In 2002, I was stuck in the highlands of Slovakia for OBS.

2006, ah hah! From the looks of the first two matches, it looks like it's going to be a cracker of a tournament. Germany certainly looks different nowadays. I remember them several years back. Big, (almost)grotesquely muscular players, with lots of power and strength, but no finesse, and the way they played was mechanical and quite stupefying. Watching the english tear them apart 5 years ago was a pleasure.

I saw a changed Germany last night. Their players are still pretty big, but somewhat slimmer and more... honed. Their on-ball skills have also much improved, and I enjoyed Phillip Lahm's subtle feints to carve space out on the flanks. There's also a sense of adventure that I don't think I've seen the Germans ever play with before. And I know this quite well since I remember Italia 1990 when Germany won what was a dry and unexciting tournament on a penalty by Andreas Brehme.

Of course, all that adventure is useless if they can't hold the fort. I can't say I was impressed with their defensive line. It seemed as though they wanted to constantly pull Wanchope offside, but playing such a tactic demands excellent communication between the keeper and his defense, and typically one of the central defenders has to call the shots.

The most amusing part of the game was when Lehman conceded the second goal. There was a camera shot of Oliver Kahn sitting on the bench, and he was smiling.

Looks like the fight to be Germany's main man between the sticks is just heating up.


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