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Why Spain Beat Germany: Tactical Analysis

Posted By akhilleus On Jul 8 2010 @ 2:06 am In FIFA World Cup 2010 | 9 Comments

I find it almost amusing to discover many people shocked or surprised at Germany’s elimination. An older soccer colleague of mine told me that Germany wouldn’t win the World Cup; he explained half jokingly, with a little reference to the two World Wars, that Germany traditionally starts strong but often can’t finish.  There is indeed much wisdom and truth in that statement; Germany always have the power, organization and discipline to go far in tournaments and even win sometimes. However, in the latter stages of the World Cup, Germany’s grit and determination has often proved insufficient against teams that are technically superior than they are: against France in the Semi Finals of 1958, against Italy in the Semi Finals of 1970, against Italy in the Final of 1982, against Argentina in the Final of 1986, against Brazil in the Final of 2002, against Italy in the Semi Finals of 2006 and today, once again, against Spain in the Semi Finals.  The question many might ask is: if Germany were able to “Blitzkrieg” through both England and Argentina, why were they so ineffective against Spain?

Where Germany’s attack and counter attack begins to develop is through their two central midfielders: Schweinsteiger and Khedira. Both England and Argentina failed to put pressure on these players, and as such, gave Germany the freedom to get forward easily.

Look at how much space England gave Schweinsteiger:


Schwinsteiger in yellow - Ozil in blue.

Not only do they not pressure Schweinsteiger, they leave Ozil alone to roam free between the midfield and defensive lines. Moments later, Germany would get their opening goal.

Here is another example:


This time, England gets caught and Germany fly on the counter attack and put the game beyond reach.

Argentina had the same problem. Here is one of the many examples of Argentina giving Scheinsteiger way too much room to manoeuvre:


Schweinsteiger in blue

In today’s match I expected Spain to have most of the possession and Germany to sit back and resort to counter attacks; but, I also anticipated Germany having problems in trying to take off on those very counter attacks that had made them so successful up until the Semi Finals. Surely enough, Germany were unable to take off and counter the Spanish like they wanted to. The reason why they had so many problems in doing so is rather simple; the Germans were outnumbered and pressed by the Spanish in the area where Germany’s offense originates, the area of Schweinsteiger and Khedira; where England and Argentina erred, Spain was perfect.

Here are two great examples:



Because of this pressure, Germany gave too many balls away and had a really hard time getting out of their half; Germany don’t possess the technical ability to navigate through tight spaces.  Germany, having to spend most of their time chasing the game, got worn out as the game went on. It was only a matter of time before Spain would find their winning goal.

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