Talking Tactics/ Brazil-Germany still a wish
In The City

June 24: 
A flashback to the highlights of Korea-Japan 2002 reveals an epitaph of heavyweights. Two of the survivors, minor in pre-tournament billings as compared to the slain, remain to kindle hopes of a titanic final, but only just. The curtains are set to come up on the penultimate scene of this extraordinary drama, and chances of more anticlimaxes can�t be ruled out with sufficient conviction. The knowledge of how it feels at this stage exists in some corner of Brazil and Germany. That�s one reason which makes them marginally superior to Turkey and South Korea. But then, the 17th World Cup is already famous for charting its own course of action.

The track has been treacherous and the ball game different so far. Among the rich in heritage still in fray, Germany had less to climb initially and face the upbeat upstarts from South Korea. It was hard bargain against the US, but the Germans won, where glimpses of the steely resolve shown by the generation of the 80s and early 90s got almost buried under the American avalanche. Brazil�s path has been distinctly troublesome, as they had to see off Belgium and England, but they now face the Turks, who threaten to be bitter rivals. The desire to witness a Brazil-Germany is dominant, but it will take the titans some doing.

In South Korea, Germany stare at an unprecedented commodity. The Asians have taken each game in new stride and swarmed the enemy like bees. They have blended technical and tactical merit with unlimited energy and also shown the heart to destroy dreams.

Germany�s classical approach, which is yet to attain the precision to plug the gaps, is up against a force that can make the slightest opening count. Germany have to play to their strength � midfield manoeuvres and superiority in aerial balls. They must reduce the distance between the rear and midfield, because that is where South Korea�s ability to multiply resources may prove decisive.

Germany can�t afford to let pressure mount in their middle-third as they had against the US. They should look for early ascendancy rather than waiting for their turn, because the Koreans will soar in confidence if they get the chance to set the pace. From Germany�s point of view, that should be the prerogative, considering the South Koreans may just be a bit jaded after emerging victors from the pressures of golden goal and shootout. Emotionally, they could be a bit drained, and this gives the Germans a good break.

In comparative strength at each department, the Koreans are ahead in defensive organisation and their midfield build-ups are faster. Their biggest asset is the speed with which they move men up and down and outnumber the opponents near the ball. The German defence isn�t the most compact around and their midfield movements are slower in comparison. Germany�s best chance lies in their ability to finish from aerial balls and this will be the biggest test for the Korean defence.

While the form book favours South Korea, the pressure to perform against a stolid German side could just be the Korean nemesis. This will be a different ball game, tactically, for the hosts, and that will be a tough one to handle.

If the Germans face a test against discipline, Brazil face fierce determination against Turkey. The Turks are tuned to the rigidity of European tactical discipline and they have a zeal that sets them part from other nations of the continent they represent. They thrive on the chance to spoil and fare better against rivals richer in reputation. They are quick in organising defence, sharp in tackles and interceptions and prepared to be physical. For a team that loves to be busy and defends with resilience, Turkey can spring the surprise sting as well. They have potent weapons in Hasan Sas, Umit Davala and Yildiray Basturk and the oft-fragile Brazilian defence will do well to come out unscathed. Brazil�s plus, however, can see them through everything and no marks for guessing what that is.

To make optimum use of their gift upfront, Brazil needed to show ruthlessness and patience in other departments. The Lucio howler apart, they held fort well against England and if they do the same against Turkey, Brazil should be able to have another go at the title.

The availability and condition of Ronaldo is of paramount importance in the absence of Ronaldinho. But even if Brazil can withstand the absence of the hero of the England match, Ronaldo has no substitute. They have a unique blend of creator and predator in Rivaldo and these two form the most deadly pair of recent times. Even against the highly motivated rivals from Turkey, Brazil start favourites because of this R factor, but there is another R.

They have to be rigid in the rear to reap full benefit of possessing the cutting edge they do.

This World Cup has taught that the gap between teams at this level is narrowing drastically. Barring the odd qualifier, all are capable and eager to prove that they are. It has been a lesson in the rudiments of a rapidly changing reality, where class has often been upstaged by tenacity and will. It�s up to the principal flag-bearers of the two most powerful football cultures to prove that on the biggest stage, class is still the dominant force. It will take them some doing yet.


June 24: 

Bharti signs for Bagan

Tollygunge Agragami stopper Satish Bharti and ten others signed for Mohun Bagan Monday. Among those who stayed on with the club were Basudeb Mondal, Bibhash Ghosh, Amar Ganguly, Rajat Ghosh Dastidar, Sumit Sengupta, Kajol Bhattacharya and Jayanta Sen.

Meanwhile, Bagan have been clubbed with Dhaka Mohammedan Sporting and Abahani in the six-team invitation tournament in Bangladesh starting July 3.

City AC win

Jadab Mondal�s brace helped City AC beat Peerless AC 2-1 in a group A match of the first division league Monday. Chandan Debnath struck for Peerless. Ohidul Islam�s goal separated Mohammedan AC from BNR in another match. In group B, Sanjib Das scored to earn Sporting Union a 1-0 win over Aikya Sammilani. The match between United Students and Taltala DS ended goalless.

Namchi soccer

St George�s School, Pedong (Kalimpong), beat Namchi Public School (NPS) 3-2 in the tie-breaker in the Eveready Cup inter-school football tournament final on Monday after regulation time ended goalless.

OTHER AWARDS � Fair play: Rising Stars, Namchi. Best player: Pukar Chhettri (NPS), Gyalchen Sherpa (St George�s). Top scorer: Bandhan Pradhan (NPS). Player of final: Mahesh Singh (NPS). Promising player: Ong Tshering Lepcha (NPS).


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