fifa ballon d’or 2010: journalists wouldn’t have given messi the award!

in the spirit of the golden globes later today, i was having a look at the detailed votes for this years fifa balon d’or, won by my favorite lionel messi. for the first time, not only the votes of the world’s captains and coaches were taken into consideration, but also the journalist’s opinion, which i tend to see as the most exact one. i also don’t like the many votes coming from countries with no or little tradition in football, and maybe biased opinion (africans vote drogba, other small countries vote for the traditional best like cristiano ronaldo). so here, i present to you a more detailed look at fifa’s list, creating from it a fairer one, in my opinion. at the end, there were five clear favorites, garnering almost 80% of all votes.

forlan had a great world cup and a great european season right before that; he won the golden ball for the world cup's best player and has deserved be ranked the 5th in the world.

i picked out the votes of the captains from football nations that should have a say in this vote (i chose 48 nations), and this is the top ten based soley on their votes (5 points for first place, 3 points for second place and 1 point for third place).

10. cristiano ronaldo 9 points

9. mesut özil 10

8. didier drogba 12

7. xabi alonso 14

6. iker casillas 15

5. diego forlan 25

4. wesley sneijder 59

3. andrés iniesta 67

2. xavi 77

1. lionel messi 91

wesley sneijder was fantastic in this year's uefa champions league and had a great world cup, with two goals against brazil as high point. he came in 4th place in the official fifa vote.

well, the players clearly supported the idea of giving messi the prize. let’s look at the coaches from only relevant football nations. they normally imagine who they would like to have in their team, for whatever reasons. here are their top ten (considering 44 coaches):

9. david villa & xabi alonso 6

8. carles puyol 8

7. thomas müller 9

6. cristiano ronaldo 18

5. diego forlan 20

4. wesley sneijder 52

3. andrés iniesta 56

2. xavi 79

1. lionel messi 121

a very clear vote for messi, even clearer than that of the players. cristiano ronaldo gets twice the points here, compared to the players, and both thomas müller and david villa weren’t even mentioned by the players, but made the top  ten with the coaches.

barcelona playes the best club football of the world, spain is the best team in the world. iniesta and xavi are the heart of both teams; one is considered the best playmaker in the world, the other scored the world cup winning goal in the final against holland!

finally, here comes the list made by the journalists, who, as a job, evaluate the sport in the year and historically. let’s see wo they thought were the best ten in the world:

9. samuel eto’o & asamoah gyan 3

8. carles puyol 5

7. david villa 10

6. iker casillas 11

5. diego forlan 55

4. lionel messi 101

3. xavi 138

2. wesley sneijder 138

1. andrés iniesta 141

it is clear to see that the media weren’t really sure who to choose: sneijder was mentioned 46 out of 68 times, xavi had the most votes for first place (21), but iniesta would have a slim lead to win. messi is only fourth place in this vote, and almost everyone voted for three of the top five. this seems to be the most coherent list, to me.

he lost to germany with argentina, but was still voted the best by players and coaches around the world; only the media would have voted him 4th place, but he still came away with the win!

adding all of them together, this would be the final result for the fifa 2010 balon d’or:

21. miroslav klose (germany) 1

20. julio cesar (brazil) 2

19. asamoah gyan (ghana) 3

18. maicon (brazil) 4

17. cesc fabregas (spain) 5

15. bastian schweinsteiger & thomas müller (both germany) 11

14. didier drogba (cote d’ivoire) 13

13. mesut özil (germany) 13

11. arjen robben (netherlands ) & samuel eto’o (cameroon) 14

TOP TEN

10. david villa (spain) 16

9. xabi alonso (spain) 21

8. carles puyol (spain) 22

7. cristiano ronaldo (portugal) 27

6. iker casillas (spain) 27

5. diego forlan (uruguay) 100

4. wesley sneijder (netherlands) 249

3. andres iniesta (spain) 264

2. xavi (spain) 294

1. lionel messi (argentina) 313

maicon is the best brazilian (!), and six in the top ten are spanish players (!!) showing their supremacy in the world.

here a ranking by nation (in total, 10 nations were represented in these votings):

1. spain 649

2. argentina 313

3. netherlands 263

4. uruguay 100

5. germany 36

all in all, the combined vote of the ballon d’or (which used to be called european footballer of the year) and fifa’s world footballer prize is still not even enought, for my taste. i do think the right player won, but generally i believe journalists should have a greater say on who should be considered the best; the way to do that would be to give football nations more journalistic votes if they have more football tradition – it can’t be that there is only one english, german or brazilian journalist voting, compared to one of swaziland, uganda and french guinea!

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my most intense sport moments of 2010

notice that this is a personal list of how i perceived this year’s sport events. the most intense sport moments of 2010, in chronological order.

february 16, whistler (canada)

anastasiya kuzmina from slovakia had won the first gold medal of the olympic games in female biathlon, just two seconds ahead of german star magdalena neuner in her first olympic games. but right in the beginning of the pursuit race, neuner passes her rival and increases her advantage after two error-free shootings to an incredible advantage. in the fourth and last shooting, neuner makes her second mistake and kuzmina has a perfect shooting, but it is not enough -12 seconds advantage at the end give the young bavarian her first ever olympic gold medal.

february 21, whistler (canada)

in the 12.5 km mass start, only 13 of the 30 starters make a mistake in the first shooting – and neuner is one of them. after her perfect second shooting, she was now in 8th place, still dreaming of a medal, but another mistake in her third shooting made it look tough. thanks to a perfect fourth shooting and her incredible pace on the slopes, magdalena neuner manages the incredible and wins her second gold medal – an even more exciting race than the one five days earlier.

march 9, fiore (italy)

in a cold, windy day, the people from fiore were all there, seemingly. it was the greatest day in football for this italian town, that had had european glory, but never in the main competition, the champions league. to eliminate bayern would be their biggest success ever, and the players knew it; bayern couldn’t control the wind or the opponent, and early in the second half, fiorentina were up by 2×0. mark van bommel managed to score a lucky goal at the mark of 60 minutes, but the dream of extra time vanished only minutes later with jovetic’s second strike against a desolate defense, 3×1. the italians looked like the certain winners now, but just a minute later, arjen robben silenced the crowd with an incredible masterpiece of a shot. with luck and robben, bayern were through to the quarterfinals.

march 24, gelsenkirchen (germany)

what a semifinal match between schalke and bayern for the german cup. the kind of 0x0 that lifts the soul, good football and very nerve breaking. but even with the stress in the weeks before, and with only a few minutes to play in extra-time, arjen robben takes the ball, dribbles passed five people and concludes with a perfect shot – the goal of the year, and once again such a decisive one!

march 30, munich (germany)

it didn’t look good at all for the home team. rooney had scored an early goal, and bayern were trying to get the best possible result since then; they dominated the match, but weren’t able to convert their advantage into goals; only ribéry was able to score a goal against the favorites and 2008 champs, and that goal only came in the 77th minute. in stoppage time, the 3-minute mark was coming close as mario gomez won a ball against rooney in midfield and somehow got it to the united box, where evra lost orientation for a second and olic scored the most exctiting goal of this life. incredible! 2×1 and munich now had a chance!

april 3, gelsenkirchen (germany)

schalke against bayern – the decisive match for the title race in the bundesliga, where felix magath’s team could’ve made a great leap towards the title with a simple victory over their pursuers. bayern, though, scored twice in the first half, conceded a goal and got a red card very early in the game. but they were able to play the match so well and united that schalke did not have one goal scoring chance in the second half, running away with the victory and, finally, with the leadership in the table.

april 6, barcelona (spain)

lionel messi wrote his name in golden letters that evening. historians might call this the greatest performance ever by a football player, in history. against arsenal fc in the quarterfinals of the uefa champions league, messi’s game was near perfection even without scoring a single goal; but he scored four, after arsenal had scored the first goal of the match. 4×1 final score, four messi goals in a perfect night for the argentinian, who marked his name as the best of the world – and applied for the “best of all time” category, although he’ll need a world cup victory to state that claim.

april 7, manchester (england)

what a day. manchester seemed to show that olic’s last-second goal wouldn’t matter at all. they demonstrated modern, fast and agressive football in the first 45 minutes, scoring three goals even without a good rooney (but with a great nani), and even olic’s goal right before the break didn’t seem to change that fact. in the second half, bayern were more present, but still found it difficult to score what would be a decisive 2×3. but they did: corner kick ribéry, volley from 20 meters by robben – perfect goal, a third all-decisive goal of the year for the incredible dutch! after that, bayern controlled the game and manchester had no answers. olic’s goal from the first leg was worth gold, after all.

april 28, barcelona (spain)

the last ten minutes of fc barcelona’s semifinal second leg match against internazionale milan were some of the best sporting minutes of the year. inter had held  0x0 for a long time, and they could lose 0x1 and still advance to the final; but after piqué scored a beautiful goal, the nou camp became an inferno for the italian team (playing without a single italian player); attack after attack rolled onto julio cesar’s goal, and some luck was involved, mixed with a lot of talent. in stoppage time, barcelona scored for the second time, which would see the holders of the title advancing to the final. but the goal was disallowed, and inter advanced. what a match!

may 15, berlin (germany)

what a match. bayern played almost perfect football in the german cup final against holders werder bremen. beautiful, efficient, dominating, fast. 4×0 was the final score, and the second title was in the sack for bayern; trully a great moment for louis van gaal and his football philosophy.

may 22, madrid (spain)

the uefa champions league final was too important to really be a fantastic game. bayern had the ball possession, inter the wit and experience; diego milito and wesley sneijder made the difference on the positive side, daniel van buyten and martin demichelis on the negative one. 2×0 to inter, in a game that seemed more like a 0x0.

may 30, istanbul (turkey)

in the most exciting championship race in history, race 7 had everything to be spectacular. mark webber and sebastian vettel led the pack with equal points but more wins for the australian, who had just won monaco. alonso had 75 points, only 3 points behind the duo, and button had 70, with felipe massa at 61. lewis hamilton, the most spectacular driver of the year thus far, wasn’t even in the top five. and it was a battle between red bull and mclaren, between webber (pole man) and vettel, between hamilton and button. and between all four, who were racing on similar pace through the circuit during most of the race. vettel an edge faster than the leading team mate, and with hamilton pressing him. so he attemped a pass, encouraged by his mechanic – but webber didn’t know of it, closed the door, and the two drivers crashed. vettel was out, webber still managed third, but the race was not over; in sight of the red bull drama, mclaren advised their drivers to “save fuel”, in other words, hold positions. hamilton thought he was okay, but button still attacked him and passed with an incredible move. hamilton was determined not to let that happened and answered in specatular fashion. incredible! great race, and hamilton now emerged in third place in the standings – two places ahead of vettel, with mark webber still leading the pack.

june 11, johannesburg (south africa)

a pretty good opening match, but what  a goal by tchabalala, to erupt the stadium and the hearts of all african people. a singular moment in this sport year.

june 13, durban (south africa)

finally the world cup gets started in terms of quality. germany plays a perfect match and impresses the whole world with its incredible speed and light way of playing, a new kind of “beautiful game”. 4×0 against australia, who didn’t lose after that and had a good world cup in 2006. mesut özil, now at real madrid, appears to the world for the first time, even without scoring a goal – that’s how well he played.

june 23, london (england)

john isner against nicolas mahut. no one could have guessed that this might have been one of the most exciting moments in tennis history, but it was. round 1 in wimbledon, court 18. the match had started one day earlier, with four sets completed and a fifth set in need; darkness was the reason for the ending of the playing that day. basically what happened is that the american and the frenchman played the whole day and still didn’t find a winner between them, due to the rule that you have to outscore your opponent by two games in a grand slam fifth set match, no tie breaks allowed. 59-59 was the astonishing score after that day, and for the second time, darkness impeded that match to be concluded. the match was concluded a day later, with an incredible 70-68 scoreline.

june 23, pretoria (south africa)

another american victory on the same day, and what a victory: landon donovan’s deciding goal in stoppage time was one of the most deserving lucky strikes in this sports year and in any fifa world cup. the us had been denied a couple of decisive goals and would face elimination without the life-saving strike by the american soccer star.

june 24, johannesburg (south africa)

the reigning champions are eliminated in last place of their group, after a gripping second half in the match against slovakia, who qualified for the knockout stage with an incredible 3×2 victory – many beautiful goals, lots of drama and an italian team playing like it should have during the world cup only in the last 10-15 minutes. the typical too litte too late.

june 26, rustenburg (south africa)

asamoah gyan is a world cup star. he had a great group phase, but his decisive and beautiful goal against the us team kept african dreams alive, and it was in extra time after a 1×1 tie during the match. one could feel the whole continent united supporting the black stars.

june 27, bloemfontein (south africa)

arguably the best soccer match of the year. the first half was the best half of football i can remember watching, mostly because of the incredible performance of the german team in the first 35 minutes (and their 2×0 lead, more than deserving) and the great english performance after the 1×2, including the disallowed goal by frank lampard, the answer the the wembley-goal from 1966. germany shook, but didn’t fall. england’s pressure was on in the beginning of the second half, but after one of those incredible and fast moves, germany scored with müller. 3×1, and shortly thereafter, 4×1, again müller. a pitty that i watched that game by myself.

july 2, port elizabeth (south africa)

brazil had impressed me and the whole world with their focussed performances in the group phase. it was a different brazil, a more intelligent brazil, but a much less beautiful one. against chile, one could only come to the conclusion that this team could only beat itself, and that it wouldn’t. so brazil were favorites against holland, not only by tradition. and the first half was a demonstration of the new brazilian way of playing: very firm in the defensive midfield, combative, efficient and cool. the 1×0 advantage could have easily been a 2×0, holland had not even seen julio cesar in the match. but the brazilians beat themselves; a goalkeeping error by julio cesar, very rare indeed, enabled an own goal by felipe melo later credited to free kicker wesley sneijder. melo saw the red card after the whole team had become nervous, and the game was now gone. the netherlands dominated the second half and won the game, 2×1. brazil was out, and the country didn’t even care too much about it. a sign of how the public viewed the “new brazilian football”.

july 2, johannesburg (south africa)

what a match between ghana and uruguay, and what dramatic moments at the end. muntari had scored a beautiful goal right before the half time break, but forlan equaliezed in the beginning of the second half. ghana were stronger in he first half, uruguay had a better second half. but ghana was the team pressuring the south americans in extra time, and then it happened. after quite a lot of confusion in the uruguaian box, a defender saves from an shot, and a header is fished out of the goal by uruguay star attacker luiz suarez. red card, penalty, but no decisive 2×1 right before the penalty shootout. asamoah gyan could score it from the spot – but the ball hit the aluminium and went out. drama was not over, more penalties were one the program now. this time gyan scored, but two of his team mates didn’t – africa cried, uruguay celebrated – mostly bad-boy suarez.

july 3, cape town (south africa)

i’d watched argentina’s 3×1 win over mexico and was not impressed. no tactics, only talent. a lot of talent, sure. but enough to beat germany’s beautiful and efficient fast-paced way of playing the game? after 2 minutes, shooting-star and world cup golden boot winner thomas müller answered with the first goal. bastian schweinsteiger played the match of his life, eliminating lionel messi from the game and even organizing all attacking moves. he played it like a true quarter-back, and the runners scored another 3 goals. 4×0, and title favorites maradona were out. germany had convinced the world that they can actually play the most attractive football on the planet, not only the most efficient one.

july 7, durban (south africa)

germany couldn’t play. spain didn’t let them. it was as simple as that. and when germany finally started to have a little chance after after almost 70 minutes, the spaniards found their goal – after a corner, with a header. the deserving winner with perfect timing and somewhat boring, but extremely exact and perfect passing style. efficient enough for he germans not to get into the game at almost any time.

july 11, johannesburg (south africa)

there were only two good things about the final: it was thrilling and the right team won. the football was pretty poor, the netherlands weren’t even try to play football most of the time, which is totally contrary to the country’s football history and philosophy. they played more german than the germans, and they could’ve won – robben missed the decisive goal twice. but spain was strong in the beginning and in extra-time, in the rest of the match they were only able o control the game. the goal by iniesta was deserving, the title as well; the best team won!

august 29, spa-francorchamps (belgium)

this has always been my favorite race (and i plan to watch it live next year), and it didn’t disappoint; at least not in the spectacle, which had vettel trying to win the race. he was the fastest on the track, once again, and as it was getting dry, he tried to pass jenson button; but he crashed into him, provoking widespread criticism. lewis hamilton won the race and took over the lead of the championship after 13 races, ahead of mark webber. at this point, it seemed that the two of them would decide the title race, but things changed quite a lot after that.

october 4, newport (wales)

a ryder cup final day on a monday was uncharacteristic, and it is not every time that the decision goes to the last hole. the young american zach johnson kept the us-hopes alive, and their great final day seemed to be able to produce a historical comeback after trailing by three points on sunday. at the end, greame mcdowell kept his cool under enormous pressure: the us open champ of 2010 beat hunter mahan and gave europe another title in this, the arguably greatest competition in golf.

october 10, suzuka (japan)

fernando alonso had won the last two races and was back in the title race after a great end-of-summer run. japan was the last chance for sebastian vettel to still run for the title, with hamilton also in front of him and webber leading the standings. and he had a simply superb weekend (just like a year earlier) to claim a fantastic victory in the land of the rising sun. kubai kobayashi gave his home crowd an incredible show and made five passing moves, making it his own personal show and finishing in 7th. vettel had now passed hamilton, but alonso was still ahead of him – and so was leader and team mate webber.

october 24, yeongam (south korea)

the championship leader had held on to his lead without winning any of the previous four races, but this time, his nerves cost him the top spot. after a mistake, he crashed out and tried to take then-second placed fernando alonso with him, but actually hit nico rosberg. vettel now was the virtual leader, since he completely dominated the race; it would have been his first championship lead of the season, the sixth man to do so. but it was not to be, since his motor failed and alonso went on to win the race and become the runaway championship favorite. with only two races to go, vettel was a race victory (25 points) behind, webber only 11 points – a team order seemed the logical strategy for brazil and abu dhabi. but that also was not to be!

november 7, são paulo (brazil)

the podium was vettel, webber, alonso. which was curious in this order, since alonso remained on the top of the standings, only needing a second place in the emirates to win his 3rd title. but webber was denied the team order privilege, since his team mate still had slim chances himself. so vettel won an exciting brazil race, and went into the final race having to leave team mate webber and alonso behind him – and not only that!

november 14, abu dhabi (emirates)

vettel cries. he’s done he impossible, and thanks the team for the opportunity to do so. he wins the race, webber finishes back in 8th (worst race of the year for him), alonso in 7th. schumacher has a frightening accident right at the beginning, ferrari ignores rosberg and petrov going to the box (i’d seen it all along!) during that safety-car phase, and their second mistake is to “mark” webber, who goes early into the pits after hitting one of his wheels. alonso goes to, worried to lose his spot in front of that red bull, and gets stuck behind petrov. vettel wins with luck and superb driving, after a year of some mistakes and lots of bad luck. and he cries. the youngest f1 champions ever, what a career so far!

november 28, london (england)

what a year it had been for rafael nadal. although there was no nadal x federer final in a grand slam, in 2010 (the first time this had happened for quite a few years), nadal had won the last three slams and is going for a “false” grand slam in australia, to make it four in a row, but not in the same year. nadal finally met federer in the atp world tour finals, the inofficial world championships of tennis. and federer taught the spaniard a lesson of who still hasn’t given up on the dream of coming back to become number one – and maybe even winning the grand slam itself. after this superb match, 2011 can come in the tennis world!

here some high class tennis, maybe the best there has ever been:

my personal top five moments:

5- ivica olic scores the winning goal for bayern munich against manchester united in the first leg, seconds from stoppage time.

4- arjen robben scores a spectacular volley to eliminate manchester united in old trafford, making olic’s goal count.

3- lukas podolski’s 2×0 against england, a fantastic goal as an example of the new german game (great work by thomas müller) and virtually eliminating the until then astonished englishmen, traditional rivals.

2- sebastian vettel passing the finish line in abu dhabi and, half a minute later, realizing he’s the world champion, breaking into tears.

1- arne friedrich’s goal against argentina, eliminating the gauchos with the 3×0; bastian schweinsteiger’s brilliant assist was the reason, and of course the tension breaking after another incredible performance of the best german team that ever played.

landon donovan – a disgrace to the soccer-loving country of america

landon donovan was considered the 13th most important personality of 2010 by the onion.
read this direct quote from their website on http://www.theonion.com/articles/landon-donovan-a-disgrace-to-the-soccerloving-coun,18624/.

in a year when so much went wrong for america, one would be hard-pressed to find a more tragic event than the beloved u.s. national team’s elimination from the 2010 world cup. the humiliating loss—which left millions of enraged citizens rioting in every major city—was universally blamed on disgraced team captain landon donovan.

 

number 13 on "the onion's" list of 2010 personalities...

after the u.s. team won its group in the first round, an estimated 300 million americans, widely known as the most fanatical soccer fans on the planet, shuttered local businesses, declared a holiday from school, and even closed down the new york stock exchange to watch the second-round match against ghana, only to see their collective hopes dashed by donovan’s subpar play. mass burnings of landon donovan effigies and widespread looting ensued, forcing president barack obama to declare a state of national emergency.

despite receiving thousands of death threats and a personal warning from the state department urging him to stay off american soil until order could be restored, donovan returned to los angeles and was shot 172 times in the chest, head, and feet by an unknown number of assailants—a crime that remains unsolved to this day as police refuse to investigate.

donovan’s decomposing corpse still hangs from the marquee at grauman’s chinese theatre in hollywood, where hundreds of passersby spit on it each day.

Published in: on December 15, 2010 at 17:47  Leave a Comment  
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manuel neuer – a legend in the making

young manuel neuer, in 2006.

march 27, 1986, manuel neuer was born. in germany. in the city of gelsenkirchen. that’s where a special football club comes from, fc schalke 04, one of the two best supported teams in germany. at the age of four, neuer already started playing for his home town club; up to his teens, who would defend all the youth teams of the club, and watch the bundesliga matches from the stands. at the age of 20, already as a professional player, he finally made his debut for the first team, substituting the injured frank rost. when the experienced goalkeeper returned from injury right in time for the home match against bayern munich, neuer retained his position and was allowed to play. his brilliant performance guaranteed a 2×2 tie in that match, and neuer had just become the starting keeper. frank rost, widely considered one of the top five keepers in germany for many years, would leave the club, and neuer was already seen as a future number one for the german national team, since jens lehmann wasn’t getting any younger.

 

neuer in action, 2009

since then, manuel neuer has had a few weeks of bad form, but mostly memorable performances and important matches. it seems that when the pressure is the highest, neuer gives his best performances. in the champions league against fc porto, in a season when schalke reached the quarter finals (2008); for the sub-21 german national team during the euro 2009 won by germany and having neuer as their mvp; or, more recently, for schalke against bayern, holding the gelsenkirchen club in the match in a fantastic first half by bayern munich, and even assisting in the first goal. even in the recent world cup, manuel neuer, who inherited his deserved number one position from a rene adler injury and a tragic robert enke suicide, did a pretty good job; a little bit of a mistake against serbia, but some great performances against ghana, england (where he assisted to klose’s first goal), argentina and spain.

neuer is on the way to becoming the world’s best keeper – a title currently belonging to iker cassillas, but still somewhat up for grabs. the brazilian julio cesar has been outstanding for internazionale, another brazilian (gomes) was considered the best goalie in england, and the young lloris, goalkeeping for lyon and france, are in the running. but the now 24 year old manuel neuer has a great future. and he deserves to spend some time of his career outside of his hometown. in england, maybe? or in munich? the decision should be announced in the next few months.

but right now my advise is for you to watch the round of 16 match involving schalke, in february. it doesn’t matter against whom, but you’ll probably understand what i’m talking about when you see neuer at work. his great qualities, besides the obvious one-to-one situations and great reflexes, are his “footballer qualities”, his precise long passes and long throws, his calm personality and his increasingly good antecipation. he’ll be the german number one for at least another decade, and he will be the world’s best goalkeeper by the time the next world cup is played.

world cup history: the dutch philosophy

history of the world cup. 19 tournaments from 1930 until 2010. the [sports] observer will take a look at this long and rich history by looking at the top ten nations in the history of the tournament. and we’ll start with the dutch.

actually it’s pretty incredible. the whole country has a population around five million smaller than the metropolitan area of são paulo, brazil’s largest city. how can a country with only 16 million people have such a rich story in football history? and how rich is that history, after all?

 

it all started with a genius: johan cruyff, a legend both for ajax amsterdam and fc barcelona, was the mastermind behind the dutch football philosophy

actually, it started only in 1970. ok, holland played in the two pre-second world war worldcups, but that was pretty much everything. the oranje have played a total of nine out of nineteen world cups, only two before 1974; and they were still favorites to win that tournament, a phenomenom never observed since then. what had happened?

november 26, 1969. the second round of the european cup had their round of second legs. the round of sixteen, and feyenoord rotterdam were playing ac milan for an unlikely place in the quarterfinal. the 0x1 defeat in the north italian city didn’t seem that tragic, but it was the italian champion, always a favorite to reach the semifinals, at the very least. almost 64,000 people came to see the game, and saw history in the making, without realising it: feyenoord sent milan home with a convincing 2×0, surprising the continent. not that the dutch team was a total dark horse, they had been in the semifinals in the 60s once. and this time, they went to the final, after eliminanting the eastern german and polish champions, where they would face celtic glasgow. we know celtic as a traditional team today, but at that time, it was arguably the best team in europe. still, for the second season in a row, a dutch team had reached the final (1969 it was ajax amsterdam), and for the first time, they actually won it.

 

cruyff against vogts during the world cup final 1974 - tradition beat innovation

leading up to the 1974 world cup, dutch football started to completely dominate europe. in club football with five dutch finalists in a row at the european cup finals, and, foremost, four titles in a row (three times ajax after the feyenoord truimph). in international football, the reason for that success was starting to become visible, although the results weren’t quite there yet. yugoslavia eliminated the netherlands from the euro competition, but the dutch scored 14 goals against luxemburg in that group – against seven goals by the east germans and only two by yugoslavia. that was the philosophy: attacking and attractive football, variable and lively. all of that would have been impossible without the genius of johan cruyff, team leader and idea leader for ajax and the national team. the idea was that the players should not be limited to staying at a specific area of the field; the team should be compact and in constant movement, including the switching of positions during the game. this idea really became prominent in the 1974 world cup, when cruyff had already moved to fc barcelona. a world cup in the neighboring germany, their main rivals, would be interesting. cruyff was seen as the world’s greatest player, alongside the german franz beckenbauer, who played a similar role in the more “organized” german team.

the two teams did meet in the final of that tournament. and it was not as “modern x traditional” or “liberal x conservative” as it might seem, but an important thing happenend. the dutch lost, but the idea didn’t. the small western european country had fallen in love with their way of playing football, it gave them an identity. and identity seeminlgy more important than big titles.

four years later, holland reached the final again – and lost to the host country, again, this time after extra time. but they were now a respected member of the world football community, with a whole country behind their efforts.

the world's best in the late eighties and early 90s: marco van basten, after scoring one of three goals against england in the euro 88

the dutch idea didn’t die, but you have to have the players to perform it. after cruyff left, the team didn’t have any success and failed to qualify for the 1982 and 1986 tournaments; in 1982, neighbors belgium, italy and even ireland were more successful. and in november 20, 1985, another decisive match took place for holland. against belgium, the only playoff to qualify, the 2nd leg match was at home. and after a 0x1 loss in brussels, the team was leading 2×0 until five minutes from time, when belgium scored the decisive goal, eliminating the dutch.

this was the beginning of the second era of dutch football. spectualar football, still, and the now world famous 4-3-3 dutch system was still in place; but new talent was now given a chance, and the trio frank rijkaard, ruud gullit and marco van basten started revolutionaring the old dutch game, adding mental and physical strength to the formula. holland won their first major title not even three years after the trauma against belgium, at the euro 88 in germany. the aforementioned trio was now considered to be top players in the world, and all of them were playing for ac milan, the best club in the world at the time. so 1990 seemed to look a lot like 1974, with the experienced germans and the new dutch team coming in as main favorites for the title.

 

gullit, here assisting to the goal of a century by van basten in the euro 88 final against ussr, was the captain of the promising dutch team or the 1990 world cup.

they met in a historical match in the round of 16, since holland wasn’t playing as well as expected and suffered in the group phase. in one of the most thrilling matches of world cup history, the germans beat holland with merit, after they had lost in the euro 88 semifinal. but netherland was back on the map, 12 years after their loss to argentina in the final.

and they proved it. new talent was arising every year, ajax amsterdam had some very successful years in europe under louis van gaal, and holland were probably one of the most exciting teams of the 94 world cup, losing in the quarterfinal to champions brazil after coming back from 0x2 to tie the game, and still loose it. but they lost in dutch style, and the idea of attractive football coming from the small flat country was still alive.

this idea gained new force in the 98 world cup, held in france. holland were the most exciting team and reached the semifinal after two thrilling knockout stage matches: edgar davids scored the winning goal against yugoslavia in overtime, dennis bergkamp had the most spectacular moment of his brilliant career two minutes from time against argentina, also a 2×1 win. and when holland tied the game five minutes from time against brazil, with a young patrick kluivert scoring the goal, the team finally seemed ready for a big title. one of the main tradicional problems in the dutch team was the seperation between white players and black players, and this wasn’t an issue in that 98 world cup. brazil went on to beat the dutch in the penalty shootout, but once again a whole country was proud.

bergkamp was holland's greatest player in the second half of the 90s, successful but without titles...

the idea of beautiful football was slowly starting to get on the nerves of dutch players. the home euro in 2000 was not won, and louis van gaal failed to qualify with the team for the 2002 world championship, by now a huge surprise. this more than anything showed that holland was rightly considered a power house in international football, but that failing to qualify started changing the idea of the beautiful game. dutch players wanted to finally win titles!

the 4-3-3 idea with two offensive wingers and less concentration on defensive work was starting to give way to a 4-4-2 system, more traditional and maybe more successful? the answer in the 2006 world cup was horrible for the players and, even more, for the fans. holland didn’t play their attractive football, and lost to portugal in the round of 16, in quite a violent match. the defeat wasn’t the worst thing, it was the way they played football. the experiment of “playing like the germans”, the more successful neighbors, was deemed unsuccessful, and fans, media and former players wanted the “dutch way”, the dutch football philosophy back.

and they got it back. the euro 2008, maybe the best football competition in history, saw holland play the way the whole world expects them to play. maybe only brazil has a similar global expectation, and everyone was glad when holland started out beating world champions italy by 3×0, and then france by 4×1. that was the holland everyone wanted. and in a very attractive match, the russians (led by dutch coach guus hiddink) beat holland in the quarter-final, a 3×1 after extra time. once again, the beautiful game hadn’t led to the title.

 

the current face of dutch football: wesley sneijder, ex-real madrid and now champions league winner with internazionale.

so holland played the german game in the last world cup. no attractive football, but this time they beat brazil in the quarterfinals and actually reached the final; but not as favorites. and, even worse for the dutch fans, not even as crowd favorites, since the spaniards were now known for playing beautiful football – much more than the dutch. that’s why this, the third defeat in a world cup final, was by far the worst. and, for many former players and journalists, the only worse thing would have been an actual world cup title, since that would have vindicated the now “ugly game” the dutch became famous for in the very violent final.

the tenth greatest football national in world cup history has to ask itself what it wants: to first play beautiful football and then win titles? or to win titles at any cost? this writer hopes that the dutch philosophy is revived, and that they may win a title with that. it doesn’t look likely for 2014, though.

history of the world cup – the [sports] observer’s version

 

good ol' days... first world cup logo!

1930 a somewhat odd event took place in the relatively small south american country of uruguay. an english sport had been globalized mostly by english sailors and contract workers in foreign countries, and not even a hundred years earlier, no one really even knew the sport. a french organization took the freedom of founding a world association for the sport, calling it fifa. and the first president of fifa, jules rimet, dreamed of a world championship with the best countries competing for the glory to be the best in the sport.

the english would not have that, even more coming from such a traditional rival as france. they ignored fifa initially and basically treated international competition most the same way as americans still treat international basketball or baseball competitions (calling the us final in baseball “world series”). no wonder they didn’t accept the invitation to be on a ship for a few weeks to play “their” sport in some developing latin american country and show that they actually were the best. so who would be the best of the rest?

well, there was one big favorite: uruguay was selected by fifa to be

the "centenario" in montevideo, 80 years later...

the first host due to two factors: first, it was a nice gesture, since the country was celebrating 100 years of its constitution; and secondly, uruguay was the “best of the rest” at the time, having won the olympic gold medal in 1924 and defended it in 1928, against neighbors argentina. so uruguay built a huge stadium (which is still called “estadio centenario” referring to the 100 years) and organized the games – but only four european nations sent national teams over the “big lake”. after all, this was to be the first and only world cup without qualifying process – fifa extended an invitation to all of its members, they just had to say they’d play by the end of february! by the time of that deadline, only american countries had confirmed entrance: argentina, brazil, bolivia, chile, mexico, paraguay, peru and the usa. uruguay invited england officially, even though they weren’t afiliated with fifa, but they also rejected. two months before the competition, europe was still not going to play along. rimet was able to convince his own country to travel, plus belgium, romania and yugoslavia. they all were forced to go, pressured by politicians and even kings.

at the end, it was all just a peaceful cruise, with the world cup being brought on the same ship as jules rimet himself, some european referees, the national teams of belgium, france and romania; and in rio, they picked up the brazilian team, too.

 

right before the final uruguay x argentina...

this marked the start the first of 19 ever more global events. from basically one man’s dream almost three decades after dreaming it the first time (and founding fifa), jule rimet’s event has become the biggest in sport or in any other field, in today’s world. 13 teams more or less wanted to play in it at the time, now almost 200 at least dream of it.

by the way, uruguay won – again! against neighbors argentina, in the final – again!

and so it all began; the [sports] observer will review the world cup history by telling the tales of the best ten nations who ever participated in it. tenth place coming up soon…

in focus: ukraine captain anatoliy tymoshchuk

 

ukraine's team that failed to qualify for their first world cup in 2001, with a young and long-haired tymoshchuk (4) right next to the number 10, shevchenko

the rise of ukranian football falls into the time of the rise of one anatoliy tymoshchuk. many germans still remember the matches when ballack first proved his importance for the nationalmannschaft. it was november of 2001, and after a tough qualifying competition for the next world cup, the first one to be held in asia, germany were on the brink of not being able to qualify for the very first time in its history. the playoffs were underway, and the opponent ukraine seemed a real test for the future. the up-and-coming ex-soviet country had a few stars in their lines, mostly those who brought main team dynamo kiev to the semifinals of the 99 champions league. andrey shevchenko was now a big star at milan, and he wasn’t the only one (rebrov being the other europe-wide known player). that cold day (november 11) also marked another cap for the only 22-year old “timo”, as he is now called by his team mates. he’d entered the team a  little more than a year earlier, and made it into the starting eleven pretty soon. playing for shakhtar donetsk since the age of 19, tymoshchuk was not part of the dynamo kiev lobby existing at the time; and he would soon become the captain of the only team to snatch away national titles from the now arch rivals of the capital.

 

tymo has captained every team he played in; here defending shakhtar, in 2007, right before his move to st petersburg.

ukraine scored first, but ballack scored the equalizer in the first half. and in the home leg, in dortmund, ballack scored twice in the 4×1 victory over the inexperienced ukrainians. for the second time in a row, the big country east to poland had failed to qualify for a world cup in the playoff stages, but it did work out for 2006, where ukraine reached the quarterfinal. timo was then already the vice-captain of the team, subbing in for shevchenko whenever he was out injured (which has been a regular occurance); anatoliy was one of the big winners of that world cup, and teams all over europe were looking to sign him for the 2006/07 season, but the faithful ukranian stayed home for another season, rejecting offers from juventus turin, as roma and others.

in 2007, timo moved north to zenit st petersburg, after winning three ukranian league titles. the 15 million euro transfer was then pretty big for a russian team, and it payed off: zenit were russian champions for the first time in history, and tymoshchuk won a popular vote as the best player in the russian league. as their captain, he led zenit to a much celebrated uefa cup title, eliminating “favorites” like villarreal (spain), olympique marseille (france), bayer leverkusen and main title candidates  bayern munich (with a 4×0 at home). in the final, they beat traditional scottish side glasgow rangers with a clear margin and thus repeated rival cska moscow’s success from a few years earlier. zenit went on to beat manchester united for the uefa super cup. only a few months later, ukraine’s and zenit’s captain agreed to join bayern munich for the 2009/10 season, thought as a replacement for zé roberto and mark van bommel.

 

zenit won the uefa cup 2008 with tymo as their captain - he scored twice against bayern in the semifinal; of course they bought him half a year later...

tymoshchuk's first year was frustrating for the leader in prime football age.

tymoshchuk’s arrival was not worthy of his career. the new coach van gaal referred to him (and mario gomez) as “not his transfers”, made mark van bommel the team captain and started using a system with only one defensive midfielder. timo was soon out of the race for van bommel’s spot, getting the occasional chance from the bench or when van bommel was either injured or suspended. and sometimes not even that, since other players would get a shot at the “6” position, too. so in some matches, tymo was tested on the right side of the field, but with little success. finally, he was a regular bench player, not being utilized as often as he had wished, and when he got to play, it was rarely in his ideal position. since the young holger badstuber was started to being used as a left back and breno didn’t have the coach’s confidence, the ukranian would sometimes play as full back. even when bayern changed the system to 4-2-3-1, it was schweinsteiger who would play alongside van bommel; and when one of them couldn’t, van gaal’s transfer daniel pranjic, actually a left midfielder or left full back, would play the part; even hamit altintop would sometimes play instead of the increasingly frustrated ukranian star.

after his first full season in a western league (and his first titles for bayern), tymoshchuk seemed to be leaving the club, after almost not playing at all for the team in the second half of the season.  it must have been tough to not play for so long, for the very first time in his career. he captained shakhtar (europa league champions last year), then zenit, the ukraine team. all with quite a lot of success. he didn’t need to be the leader at bayern, but it was bad enough that he didn’t even get to play or feel his coach’s confidence.

 

his second year is turning out to be much better, and he might have snatched himself a position in the team. here he celebrates his frist of two goals against frankfurt, two weeks ago.

but he wanted to stay, and he finally got his shot when mark van bommel was injured. the bayern versus holland clash (over robben playing the world cup badly injured and not having played a minute for bayern this season yet) escalated when van bommel, injured, was used in a netherlands match and then wasn’t able to play for his team for over a month. finally, tymoshchuk, who was being used instead of martin demichelis as a full center back, got to play his position; and he did it with the quality that he simply has! the two goals against eintracht frankfurt a couple of weeks ago are only the highest peaks of steadily great performances over the last two months, and it seems that anatoliy has finally arrived in munich.

with van bommel coming back, it will be interesting to see which changes van gaal will make to the team. against schalke, he put tymoshchuk back to the central defense, leaving last year’s champions league duo van buyten and demichelis on the bench. breno had a decisive slip in that match and might lose his place against st. pauli, so it is possible that the “double-six” will continue to be van bommel and toni kroos, with either van buyten or breno defending in the back with tymo. schweinsteiger has been playing more advanced, since he has been a decisive goal scorer and assister for mario gomez up front. in my ideal bayern-team, with robben back and ribéry playing his best, i would have the following starting eleven, with pranjic and kroos very close to the team:

 

no one played more matches for the ukraine than the current captain: here tymo during the 2006 world cup.

butt – contento, badstuber, breno, lahm – schweinsteiger, tymoshchuk – ribéry, müller, robben – gomez

the bench would have kraft (second goalie), van buyten, pranjic, van bommel, kroos, altintop, klose and olic – not bad at all!

my point is that anatoliy is better than captain mark, and that he should start instead of the dutch international, who hopefully won’t get his contract extended. and it is only worthy of a still 31 year old player to get a few years of top football before retirement. one landmark is already done: tymoshchuk has just passed shevchenko to become the countries most capped player of all time.

Published in: on December 8, 2010 at 08:56  Comments (2)  

lionel messi – my world’s best for 2010

he didn’t play in the champions league final and score the winning goals (that was his countryman diego milito).

he didn’t play in the world cup final. actually, he had a rather weak game when germany massacrated argentina in the quarterfinal, with a superb individual performance by his direct opponent, bastian schweinsteiger.

he didn’t score the two deciding goals in the europa league final, one of them in extra-time, score five goals in the world cup and be rewarded with the golden ball for the most valuable world cup player – that was diego forlan. actually, he ailed to score even a single goal in five world cup matches.

he didn’t win the champions league and play the world cup final, scoring and assisting in decisive goals in both competitions – that was wesley sneijder, the dutchman.

and of course, he isn’t a current world champion, even though he plays with some in football’s best club of the decade – those would be maestro xavi and world cup winning goal scorer andres iniesta.

so why would i still pick lionel messi as the world’s best player in 2010?

pretty simply put, because he is.

although under a huge amount of pressure, he played a pretty decent world cup.

he scores goals and passes the ball the way no one else can – and he does both things consistently, in high level matches.

he had what can argueably be described as the best single performance of a football player in the history of the game in a champions league quarterfinal match against arsenal fc.

now, take the 5-0 thrashing of fc barcelona over real madrid, the day before yesterday. messi, for once, didn’t even score, while david villa, world champion and 5-time goal scorer in the biggest tournament on earth, scored twice. and still, it was lionel messi who got the deserved attention – for a superb performance.

sneijder, xavi, iniesta, even milito, schweinsteiger and robben had a more successful year. and even cristiano ronaldo has had quite a run since the world cup, let’s admit it!

but don’t tell me any of them is better than lionel messi. not in 2010, and probably not in the years to come.

 

the best. simply.

fifa nominates 28 players – choose your top 5!

this is a short post, hopefully with some comments and controversy on who you would pick for fifa player of the year and fifa coach of the year. here is the list of players, with their respective clubs and nationalities, and then the list of the coaches. PICK YOUR TOP FIVE PLAYERS (IN RANKING ORDER) AND YOUR TOP COACH, and justify your choices, if you will! I’ll start right after presenting the list:

Xabi ALONSO (Real Madrid, Spain)

Daniel ALVES (FC Barcelona, Brazil)

Iker CASILLAS (Real Madrid, Spain)

Cristiano RONALDO (Real Madrid, Portugal)

Didier DROGBA (Chelsea FC, Ivory Coast)

Samuel ETO’O (Internazionale, Cameroon)

Cesc FABREGAS (Arsenal FC, Spain)

 

the favorite? diego forlan, atletico madrid and uruguay

Diego FORLÁN (Atletico Madrid, Uruguay)

Asamoah GYAN (Stade Rennes/FC Sunderland, Ghana)

Andrés INIESTA (FC Barcelona, Spain)

Júlio CÉSAR (Internazionale, Brazil)

Miroslav KLOSE (Bayern München, Germany)

Philipp LAHM (Bayern München, Germany)

MAICON (Internazionale, Brazil)

Lionel MESSI (FC Barcelona, Argentina)

Thomas MÜLLER (Bayern München, Germany)

Mesut ÖZIL (Werder Bremen/Real Madrid, Germany)

Carles PUYOL (FC Barcelona, Spain)

Arjen ROBBEN (Bayern München, Netherlands)

Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER (Bayern München, Germany)

Wesley SCHNEIJDER (Internazionale, Netherlands)

David VILLA (Valencia FC/FC Barcelona, Spain)

XAVI (FC Barcelona, Spain)

 

The coaches are: Carlos Ancelotti (Chelsea FC), Vicente Del Bosque (Spain), Alex Ferguson (Manchester United), Pep Guardiola (FC Barcelona), Jogi Löw (Germany), José Mourinho (Internazionale/Real Madrid), Oscar Tabárez (Uruguay), Louis Van Gaal (Bayern München), Bert Van Marwijk (Netherlands), Arsène Wenger (Arsenal FC)

 

My Top 5 would be:

5- Bastian Schweinsteiger  – best performance by a single player in the World Cup (against Argentina), decisive in Bayern’s very successful year, and the boss in an impressive German World Cup team.

4- Andrés Iniesta – when he was injured, Barcelona got kicked out of the Champions League. But he came back to have a good World Cup with the decisive title winning goal at the end of it, to crown a spectacular career since he was a teen.

3- Arjen Robben – an MVP for Bayern and their great success in Champions League, Bundesliga and Cup, with lots of goals, assists and beautiful moments.

2- Lionel Messi – is still the best player in the world, and showed it quite a few times this year, including some really good World Cup performances.

1- Wesley Sneijder – decisive for Inter in the Champions League and for the Netherlands to reach the final. Lots of assists and goals in important matches.

I think FIFA might pick Diego Forlan, who had a great World Cup and scored both decisive goals in the Europa League final. And he would make a good choice, but I still wouldn’t have him in my top 5, because of the quality of my picks. Even a Xavi or a Cristiano Ronaldo are tough to keep out of the Top 5, even though the latter hasn’t had too much success with his teams, only personal success.

Coach: Jogi Löw – Mourinho will probably win, and he’s had great success with Inter. But Jogi Löw revolutionized the way  great football nation like Germany plays the game, and he did it in style, beating England and Argentina convincingly. The football played by his team was the most beautiful of the year.

Waiting for your Top 5 and Top Coach.

 

germany’s football culture has changed

it was just germany x azerbaijan. a mere qualifier for euro 2012. but it was still a very important match for the fans of german football. and maybe, just maybe, for any football fan.

klinsmann is a symbol for the old germany: athletic, enthusiastic, soloist...

germany has been famous, over decades, for its efficiency. yes, there were some quite brilliant players, and some memorable teams; but it was the german physis, tactics, discipline and efficiency which took the national teams to 6 titles in euros and world cups, and inumerous 2nd, 3rd and 4th places in the biggest international tournaments.

in 2006, the german team showed first signs of a new, exciting way of playing the game; mostly, the round of 16 match against sweden comes to mind. but even the 2nd place in the euro 2008 couldn’t hide the fact that germany was playing like germany again… with a lots of will and strength, the final was reached; but netherlands, russia and spain were the teams getting the praise at the end. at the end, results count; but really memorable teams have a way of playing, a style that fascinates the world.

german teams are still united, but now they have a better playing philosophy...

i think it’s safe to say that spain did not fascinate the world in this world cup, and netherlands never really came close. actually, the dutch played quite a little like the germans. and the germans? they played… differently.

hungary in the 50ies, brasil in 58, 70 and 82; the netherlands in 1974. those teams played a special kind of football, each of them different from the other. 1986 is an exception, since it was maradona who was memorable, not the argentinian national team. and since that world cup in mexico, here has not been one team to really stand out and become memorable.

i can’t really say that this was the case for the first time in 24 years in “waka waka” land. it’s to early to judge. but a great team is developing, a team that might become as great as the spaniards are now – but even more admired and loved.

thomas müller is a symbol of the new germany...

the fact that i’m talking about the young german national squad seems surreal, but it is, nonetheless, true. beyond a doubt, the most exciting football in the last world cup was celebrated by the germans. it’s fast, vertical and risky on the attack, but envolves lots of running, positioning and discipline in the defense. “umschalten” is the word in german, to “change” the switch. when someone gets the ball, everyone else should be in offensive movement, and the ball should be played as fast and vertical as possible to the front. there is room for plenty of creativity and intelligent play, and there is room for mistakes; because of the organization and the traditional good goal keeping.

part of the new germany: now they have cacau, özil, khedira, boateng, podolski... so many nations into one!

even the germans were taken by surprise with the team. özil only really started to play for the team not even a year ago, müller played his first match in march of 2010, toni kroos had his debut the same day; schweinsteiger left the wings and only started to play in the central midfield position in the weeks before the world cup, and boateng had his first match october last year. everyone saw the potential, but no one could have dreamed of seeing it all really work well, at least in three memorable matches.

podolski is playing much better, with the company of özil and müller.

the victory against australia is underestimated. germany were the first team to shine in the world cup, and they completeley dominated australia; but not in a typical german way, but playfully, light, fast and dangerous. it could have been 8×0, easily. but even if it had been only 2×0, it was the way they played that was so different. by the way, australia beat serbia and tied against ghana… the germany game was their only loss. even in their loss to serbia, they played a breath-taking second half – with only 10 men; but no goals.

the matches against england and argentina are most likely the best a german team has ever played. spain plays the game of patience, of total ball control, of waiting and then scoring, of not letting the other team play. germany do not show such patience, they’re play is less mature, but more youthful – and nice to look at. in the old days, if you had one great combination of offensive passes, it was reason for great praise; now you can’t count them anymore, simply because it has become the philosophy to try, and try, and try.

klose scored two goals yesterday, one against belgium friday - he's playing much better football now, with the young fellows.

so yesterday’s match, the first one on home soil since the strange world cup events, was a looker. first of all, german teams have traditionally had problems against the so-called “smaller football nations”; a 1×0 or 2×1 was not a rare result, and the game was rarely interesting to watch. second, azerbaijan have shown that they are difficult to play, having tied in russia and even beaten the czech republic, all pretty recently. so normally there would be no reason to expect a goal festival. but this was the exact expectation, based on the world cup feeling.

and even under that pressure to perform, and even not at 100% after a short vacation: what we saw yesterday was a german team demonstrating that they will continue their path and have no intention to stop. many talented players are on the outside and want in. after the 3×0 half time lead, normally the second half would be a total bore, but the new germany attacks until he very last minute, no matter the score. klose scored the final goal in over time.

badstuber played a great game yesterday and looks like the future as a full back.

it is just good to know that something definetley is growing in german football. a team that has the potential to be memorable not for titles or dramas, but simply for a way of playing football. thomas müller, who didn’t have a good day yesterday, represents this new germany; only very few bayern fans knew him a year ago, and now he’s conquered the world. and: he is here to stay, for a long time.

talent, mentality, added to the team spirit, defensive discipline and the willingness to attack always, as much as possible, with everyone moving all the time and avoiding to commit fouls: this is the germany that might be considered memorable in years to come. the germany in 2010, and maybe the germany in 2014. the way is long, but yesterday proved that no one has the intention to change the direction.

germany and the world will be thankful. the 6×1 yesterday could only be the continuation of what started in the winter miracle of 2010…