German Trendsetters: Flexibility makes you win

2014-07-13 22:38:47 GMT2014-07-14 06:38:47(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Trendsetters in football are not always winners. But sometimes they are. That - maybe - was the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup with Mario Goetze scoring the winning goal in extra time in the final against Argentina to secure Germany's fourth World Cup title.

World Cups usually carry a message to the outside world affecting the future of football around the globe. The German one is: Be extremely flexible and never forget all your possibilities, meaning, never give up.

At first glance it sounds an easy thing to be flexible within a game - as far as tactics and strategy are concerned. But it is far from being easy. Not many teams are able to do so, but the Germans are. They were able to read each new game and ploy - from one second to the other - and it tells a new story. Nothing in the world's football books, no matter how old they may be, is regarded as old fashioned anymore. But above all stands: Be flexible in mind and in the feet. And count on an destroyable camaraderie.

The Germans invented a back row of four out-and-out central defenders as they first of all wanted to make sure they were rock solid at the back. And then the defense needed a tweak so that Philipp Lahm went from midfield (position six) to right back to push the game forward over the right flank.

In midfield the so called modern version of "position six" (at the center in front of the defensive tasks) was this time more a case of job-sharing for Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira (in the final Christoph Kramer as well until he also was substituted due to an injury). All three work as guards, playmakers and space-openers into the opponent's defense.

What made their job a hard one against Argentina was Messi, who won the player of the tournament award, and his outstanding abilities. They didn' t manage to get Messi under complete control - which was no surprise against the maybe best footballer on earth. Therefore when turning defense into attack, Germany for a long time lacked speed against the South Americans.

In the final the Germans had to change their lineup twice. Shortly before the start (Khedira was out due to injury) and after 30 minutes as Kramer was out as well. It took a while to get back on track, but they managed, not without problems though.

Up front it was at first done with a "false nine" - later in the tournament with Miroslav Klose as spearhead - and then with Goetze as false nine again in extra time of the final. Again the Germans delivered another successful example - if you can carry out changes in your system within a game - it is first class. Positions were changed, to create chaos within the opponent's back row and create chances.

The Germans in time remembered dead ball situations are a weapon (in contrast to the 2010 World Cup). And keeper Manuel Neuer was more than a "goalkeeper", sometimes he was more of a libero (as seen against Algeria) as the German defense played further up and he had to watch the space between him and his defenders (as seen against Higurain) as Neuer had to come out and save the day on the edge of the box against Higuain.

Being dominant in what he did during the tournament (he was awarded as tournaments best keeper with the Golden Glove), he might have disturbed Argentina's striker Higuain in the final when the Argentine stood alone right in front of Neuer who spoiled the biggest chance for Argentina in the first half. But Argentina often took advantage of the open space the Germans left between their back row and Neuer. The Argentines left the Germany with little space - that is until they changed tactics again - a truly winning strategy.

"You don't need the best players in your squad, but you need a plan and a lot of team spirit," German captain Lahm said.

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