Home > Football (soccer) > Best of the Bunch and Lalas the Octopus?

Best of the Bunch and Lalas the Octopus?

Spain have outdone Germany at their own game: Patience. Persistence. Defense. Great goalkeeping. Opportunistic. And a well-timed header by Carles Puyol means they are going to the World Cup Finals.

No one from Die Mannschaft jumping with Puyol of Spain

That’s twice in a row now that my adopted German mannschaft has failed in the semi finals. I said Ballack was one of the main reasons they faltered in 2006, but he wasn’t to blame this time. The Germans looked tired, out of sorts, struggled to keep the ball, and devoid of ideas.

FIFA has to do something about the rule keeping out the best soccer players at the end of these tournaments. Ballack missed the 2002 Final in Korea/Japan, and the game was ruined. Totally lopsided win by Brazil. And this time, arguably the best German player of the tournament, 20-yr old Thomas Mueller (4 goals, 3 assists) on the top scoring, free-flowing German team was kept out of the game. No, the statement, “the top-scoring, free-flowing German team” is not an oxymoron. I think Bastian Schweinsteiger is the best of the bunch, but Mueller brings the attacking focus that many previous German teams have been without.

Without their best attacking option, Schweinsteiger and teammates struggled.

Like today for example. They were hardly themselves without him. FIFA can’t keep teasing us like this. We want to see the best players play against the best players, and to have Mueller sit out this very important semi final based on that yellow card against Argentina was terrible.

And Spain are keeping at it. Some could say boring. Patient is the word they prefer. The same things were said about Germany in 1982, 1986, and 1990, when they went to 3 World Cup Finals in a row. Sure they stuttered, at times drawing 0-0 with inferior opposition, and famously lost to East Germany in 1974 when they went on to win the World Cup.

Today Spain beat Germany at their own game. They are painstakingly patient at building the game from the back. They push forward slowly. They probe. If they don’t like what they see, they give it back to their defenders and try, try again. Spain lost to Switzerland after being lost for most of the game. At times they struggled against mighty Chile, and had just enough to beat plucky Paraguay. They grind out 1-0 wins as though they were from Mainz and Berlin, not Madrid and Barcelona.

So what’s the prognostication? Ask the Octopus. Evidently this creature has picked 6 for 6 correctly in all of Germany’s games so far, including their loss to Spain today.

Or ask Alexi Lalas. Evidently he picked 4 out of the 4 Semi Finalists correctly: Uruguay, Netherlands, Germany and Spain. He picked Netherlands and Spain to advance, and then the Netherlands to win it all.

I’m going to have to go against Lalas on that one. I’m sticking with my original pick: Spain. But I’m no octopus.

How could the little bugger have known that Germany would lose to much shorter Spain by not marking up on a corner kick?

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  1. dfm
    July 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    oh sadness prevailed as the recorded game was watched by 11 of us last night — could hardly believe Germany looked so bad — wondered out loud at the time if Mueller’s absence was the offensive spark that was missing. Thanks for your perspective. I remember my introduction to TV soccer was many years ago when it was called “Soccer made in Germany.” Now so many other countries are available on TV, but my husband’s heritage, a trip to Germany for 2006 World Cup games, and a never lost tender feeling for Soccer Made in Germany make me sad that Germany will not be in the finals. All that said, I actually picked Spain to play and lose in the finals against Brazil. So that was my head speaking; but my heart wanted Germany. Thanks for listening.
    D

    • July 12, 2010 at 3:26 pm

      Now that Germany are out, Go Spain! I’d rather they win it than the Dutch.

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