July 8th, 2010
|08:15 am - Tentacular!|
I haven't posted much about the World Cup because to be honest I didn't rate the English team very highly, and while I supported them, I didn't really hope for much from them. It's thwarted hope that brings the emotional charge, as my Germany-supporting friends such as obsessive24 have experienced.
Until last night's defeat by Spain, Germany seemed to have achieved some kind of tactical innovation which allowed them to take apart teams which were player-for-player more skilful - more or less the precise opposite to England which continues to squander its resource. My feeling is that this was Germany's World Cup to win, because four years from now other teams will have processed whatever it is the Germans are doing, and adapted to it. I certainly haven't figured it out; some kind of speed chess with athleticism.
I am not sure what Spain did to neutralise that tactic: of course the individual brilliance of certain players, but this hasn't been enough for other countries. I think Spain have been less nervous than other teams. Germany seemed on edge to me. In fact there has been a great sense of nervousness over this tournament. I think international interest is greater than ever, with new expanding audiences in the developing world, and resistant nations such as the USA. Perhaps this is freaking people out?
Anyway, surely the story of the Tournament is the unimpeachable record of Paul the Psychic Octopus. This Weymouth-born mollusc has correctly predicted the result of every German game. Apparently several German TV stations interrupted their broadcasts to bring live coverage of Paul's predictions to a nation on tenterhooks. To their dismay he predicted Spain would win.
In fact, perhaps that's what went wrong for the German team last night - as they played they felt the weight of a psychic octopus on their backs.
I don't think there was any great tactical innovation about Germany - it was more having a group of very talented young players who could counter-attack with skill at incredible speed. What Spain did was to keep their shape and they very rarely gave the Germans the space and time they needed to be able to launch attacks, and by keeping the ball the way they did, they just tired the Germans out and blunted their edge.
There are some very young German players. It was a boring game for the first half, and H went off to play his mandolin in a pub in Leamington, but I'm glad I stayed because it was great fun in the second half.
Compared to any World Cup I can remember since the eighties I really have had very little idea of what is going on, very little idea of what is going to happen, and what it all means. Quite fun actually.
I love all the emphasis in all the reporting on Paul's place of birth: "Yeah, well, our football team may be shite, but England produces psychic octopuses. Did you hear that? Psychic octopuses."
The next England chant: 'Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn'
Man, I'd support England then.
Indeed I have heard Scottish people say 'Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn' when England do well at football. At least I think that's what they were saying.
As you know I haven't really been following this... but I was shocked when I heard the Germans had gone out, as I'd got the impression they were the ones. But I suppose once Uruguay lost it was always going to be a Habsburg affair.
I think most people thought so too
I don't think there is much likelihood of other teams adapting to what the Germans do so well, because it's not really something you can train for. It's team spirit. They play as a team, win as a team and lose as a team. They have some great players, but as you said, other nations have those, too, and often more of them. But in sports a team is more than the sum of it's parts. And that team spirit is what makes it so much fun to watch the guys (no matter whether they win or lose)that they've now even gathered an international following.
I think that kind of co-operative effort is something that a coach and an FA can encourage or not. Some US commentators have been saying football (as they say 'soccer') is anti-American or socialist because it rewards co-operative strategies instead of individual performance. If this is true, then I think other countries can let that lesson work its way through.
I wondered if the octopus affected the performance of superstitious players. My theory is that it likes certain flag colours.
I was very pleased to see Spain win because they've never made it this far and I tend to support underdogs. I also enjoy the way they play: as well as the Germans but somehow less clinically.
My theory is that it likes certain flag colours.
I was listening to the radio today, and someone said that. They thought octopi might have a tendency towards brighter colours, but I haven't bothered to do any research into whether this is likely.
It might also be that teams from countries with more brightly-coloured flags play better ;)
Yet more reason for us to get a decent one of our own! :-) Though most of the South American sides go for blue and white which aren't that bright, and they usually do very well.
Looking at the flags, I'd say Paul goes for red and yellow, and the only other flag besides Germany and Spain that had those colours was Ghana. Perhaps he didn't like the green on that.