germany vs japan

here we are.  garefrekes as captain.  Inka Grings to start.  Kim Kulig is back, as well as Behringer.  the whistle is blown!!!


I back to finish it…

Japan 1 Germany 0

(c) Scott Heavey, Getty Images

Japan played a better match in term of strategy and great ball control.  Did Germany, i wonder, overlook Japan?  They were slow to receive passes, non-accurate in passing. no running give/take on the wings.  There were only a few real chances and the finishers were just not as sharp.  In one example Garefrekes passed a perfect ball to da Mbabi and she missed the first touch right into the goalie.  In another, a Japanese mistake gave Grings the ball right into the penalty area and she fired it hastily wide.  Or the one where Garefrekes got into the penalty area along the right side and passed not to the player right in front of the goal but to Behringer on the far side near 16.5 m and Behringer launched it way over the cross bar…

It looked like Japan came in with the strategy of building a brick-wall super-tight defense and controlling the ball in the middle.  They succeeded in both.  This caused Germany to be very impatient.  At the beginning of the match, Germany got many chances to score (I nearly screamed my head off when Garefrekes got to the ball with her thigh right in front of the goal from a free kick by Behringer…)  But soon Japan got the ball in the middle and began to 1-touch pass VERY accurately between several players.  Germany running viciously trying to steal the ball, but Japan was sooo technically good with ball control and quick passing that it caused great impatience for the German.  As a result as soon as Germany stole the ball back, they immediately fired it up field hastily to try to start something.  Given that (a) they just couldn’t pass right on the point (many passes caused receiving players to run madly toward the ball, chạy thục mạng as we say it in Vietnamese, or got interrupted by a Japanese defender) and (b) Japanese defense was almost perfect, Germany lost the ball quickly up field.  Then the action again took place in the middle of the field with highly accurate passings between Japanese mid-fielders and vicious running by Germans.

Germany could have done the same, i thought, if they could just control the ball near the defensive side of midfield to draw the Japanese players running up.  But! this could not happen because after 2 or 3 passes, they lost the ball on the offensive side of midfield!  So, the combination of being impatient, inability to pass accurate and endless running circle around the Japanese mid-fielders (which tired them out),  I would say, are the main reasons Germany did not succeed in this match.  All that impatience played into Japan’s favor as they could counter-attack.  Japan’s main goals of not conceding a goal and living on the sparingly counter attacks both paid off.

As a die-hard German fan, I lost nearly all my hair in frustration (and spent my whole afternoon avoiding the internet, just wandering off on street feeling a bit lost…)  But that’s what a good team could do, caused frustration and mistakes using a very good plan and near-perfect execution.  Toward the end of the match, I was really hoping Germany could just string together 1 sequence of good passing + good finishing.  The longer the game ran, the less and less likely it was for this sequence to happen.  What i could say though is that Germany played a very good aggressive style (which was a bit hard to watch only because of the inaccurate passing, but one can not say that team Germany did not put in great effort).  This is in big contrast to the German men side before 2006 (or rather from 1986 – 2005) where they just sit to play brick-wall defense and live on counter attack (the exact way the impressively skillful Japanese was doing in this game).  I first liked them (Germany) way back in 1986 because even though they play ugly as hell, they always win in the end (or almost…).  “The ends justify the means, no excuse”, that was my mentality. Now considerably older, I appreciate the beautiful game more (hence the Brazilian’s style, i used to dislike them because they almost always beat Germany.)  So, for the super young german women team, hopefully they experience this lost well and move on to better success in euro 2013 and next world cup 2015! (but they need to practice passing better, 1 touch pass in super-speedy-pressing defense!! the give-and-go type of passing, the Spanish type during 2010 world cup!)

(c) Getty Images

though still quite sad, i off now to root for Brazil. My favorite player, Kerstin Garefrekes, is now off.  This might be her last world cup as well.  At some point later, i’d write up more about why i love her game…

Hats off to Japan, a wonderful game and biggest upset of this world cup so far.

france vs england

we’re now in overtime.  now it looks like a game in slow motion.  england seemed tired. made all substitutes already for defensive purpose in trying to keep a 1-0 lead.  On the other hand, looks like the french players are tired as well.  The all-out effort to tie is taking a toll on them.  they’re no longer making small passes from midfield but just firing up. should reallly play to the right wing more where super-speedy sub Thomie…

i hope it’s not getting to penalty kick…

meanwhile, this woman commentator from ESPN is really getting on me nerve, all me me me “when i was playing i was doing this…”, “we americans normally do this…”, ” a sport psychologist once told me this…”, grrr