Argentina will play another World Cup Final after a long time. They needed to get to extra time and then to the penalty shoot out to eventually beat the Dutch national team. From Tuesday Germany were awaiting them after thrashing Brazil in a game that won’t be forgotten...
A win in history
Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in the first of the two semi-finals. This scoreboard will remain as part of football history and emphasises the ‘curse’ that Brazil has had every time they have organized a World Cup.
The game seemed to be one of those in which tactics become less protagonists as the minutes go by, especially after the first goals scored. It was one of those games in which both sensation and unstoppable rhythm become much more important than any previous tactics or game plan.
However, let’s try to analyse different technical and tactical details of this fascinating game. Both teams initially displayed a defensive line of four to build their team on. The Germans started with Klose up front, Muller and Ozil in the wide areas and Kroos, Khedira and Schwesteinger in midfield, although constantly exchanging positions, especially Klose and Muller, Germany’s two main attacking threats. Their back four played again quite high, maybe this being their weak point. France previously tried to exploit these spaces left behind Germany’s defence, especially attacking the position of Lahm, their most offensive defender.
On their part, Scolari decided to replace Neymar –injured- with Bernard and Thiago Silva –suspended- with Dante. Many will say that it could be the key factor of the match, mainly the absence of their captain. It is true that Silva gives great security to the team but the reality is that Brazil missed much more than that.
Muller found himself alone in the back post to score the first goal of the match after finishing a corner delivered from the right of their attack, and that seemed to absolutely destroy all the confidence the Brazilians could have in themselves. The whole country was behind them, the pressure was high, and maybe that could have had a reverse effect on them. The fact is that after conceding the first goal Brazil tried to level the game too quickly, lost their shape, made many individual mistakes and by doing that allowed the Germans to perfectly implement their game plan: high pressing, regain the ball and finish quickly.
As an example, we could see Marcelo tracking an opponent behind his own defensive line –second goal- or the whole Brazilian defensive line dropping off every time they lost the ball instead of pressing it.
The lack of intensity defending wide areas led Brazil to concede two more goals. Brazil played the rest of the game with the heart but kept making such incredible defensive mistakes for a team of their quality and prestige that Germany just had to firmly follow their game plan to kill the game. It finished 7-1 and although it is harsh to say, everyone had the feeling that the difference on the scoreboard could have been even bigger.
Germany kept throughout the whole game the order, discipline and mobility shown in the previous games and were never in trouble. Just in the first minutes of the second half Brazil created some chances, attacking as above saying more with their heart than the result of a certain game plan.
To find someone to blame will be easy after the defeat but in my opinion, apart from the initial defensive mistakes made in this game, the great pressure the Brazilian national team had to deal with from the beginning of the competition was in the end their main problem. Probably they didn’t have the resources to manage adversity and that was for me the key point of the game.
Just two more details to finish with the analysis of this game: the goal conceded by Germany showed their problems defending with a high line, quite relaxed at times and without covers between the back four, something that didn’t seem to bother anyone but Neuer. The second one is that Klose is now the top scorer in the history of the World Cup, ahead of Ronaldo. Our congratulations.
Germany reached the final and is so far, the great favourite to win this World Cup.
Argentina needed penalties
Argentina will face Germany in the World Cup Final after beating Holland in the penalty shoot out. Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder missed their penalties and Argentina needed just four to reach the final.
Holland displayed their usual 1-3-4-3 with both wingbacks Kuyt and Blind exploiting the wide areas as the ‘wingers’ Sneijder and Robben went inside with freedom. Holland’s man to man marking in many areas of the pitch is very aggressive and doesn't allow the rivals to create much. On their part, Argentina displayed a 1-4-4-2 system with Messi and Higuain up front and Ezequiel and Enzo as wingers. Both strikers didn’t help much pressing the ball but their midfield was quite aggressive and intense in it although unsuccessfully as the Dutch always felt comfortable on the ball playing backwards when necessary and keeping possession. Argentina tried to play the ball more often and tried to exploit the space behind the defensive line at times whereas Holland based their game in launching counter attacks after recovering the ball, although they struggled to move the ball quickly enough to surprise the Argentinean defence. The first half came to an end without any clear chances, with 0-0 on the scoreboard. Just Argentina gave some sense of danger.
In the second half Van Gaal decided to replace Indi –booked- with Jamaat restructuring the defence. Kuyt moved to the left wing, the just entered Jamaat played on the right and Blind as centerback. Holland seems to be more offensive now, but still relies too much on central combinations as their wingbacks struggle to beat their rivals in the wide areas, turning their attack quite predictable. Argentina regains now many balls but instead of playing quickly forward they kept playing the ball backwards.
The pace of the game is still slow, it seemed that both teams preferred not to risk and only Higuain created some danger for Argentina. Aguero and Palacio entered the pitch in an attempt to give more energy to the attack of the ‘celestes’, but there was not much time left and they could not make the difference. In the last play before extra time Mascherano saved a clear chance blocking Robben’s close range shot in a spectacular action. The game went into extra time, in which first half Huntelaar replaced VanPersie as the last attempt of Van Gaal to change the game. Alejandro Sabella, for his part, replaced Lavezzi by Maxi Rodriguez, and that meant that both teams already made all the substitutions.
The fear of both teams of losing the game made them not take any risks and Zabaleta’s injury slowed the game down even more. Unexpectedly Palacio had a clear chance to score in front of the goalkeeper but decided to head the ball instead of letting it bounce to shoot. There was not much more to highlight. It hasn’t been the best game of the World Cup, that’s true, and just the penalties sent Argentina through the Final. Romero saved two and Maxi Rodriguez scored the decisive one in a penalty shoot out in which Argentina just needed to take four penalties.
We will wait now for the World Cup final, which we will analyse here for you. See you then.