Talking Tactics/ Victory of Scolari�s practical approach
My Choice/ Ronaldo for goals, but it�s Schneider for sheer enterprise
Bangalore Racing/ �Executive� wins

Yokohama, June 30: 
Scolari was right and the rest of Brazil was wrong. It is Samba time in Yokohama and must be so in several parts of the world. The football on offer, however, was based on a different tune. The composer, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, was adamant throughout that Brazil must abandon their traditional style and concentrate on following the order of the day � combine patience, doggedness and rigidity with controlled and occasional use of their natural ability to entertain.

His formula drew herds of critics but Scolari was determined. Brazil�s fifth world title is a tribute to this determination. The final was not a high-quality affair and Brazil won because they played to limitations and committed fewer errors. Germany�s performance was similar, but they erred more and are returning with silver because they didn�t have the golden edge upfront.

It rained only mildly Sunday but the pitch was heavy following the overnight downpour and the closing ceremony made it worse. Brazil were clearly uncomfortable and Germany succeeded in outnumbering them in the defensive and middle third. The R trio got little room to work on and Germany won the early exchanges by chasing and harrying them.

Snatching and blocking near the centre had troubled Brazil throughout and it was no different in the final. The Germans were standing close to each other and capitalised on the lack of resistance in midfield by moving up in short passes. But after this, they ran out of ideas. Most of their forays culminated in high centres and there was nobody to make them count. When they look back, the Germans will realise they didn�t have anybody apart from Oliver Neuville to seriously trouble the defenders and of course, they will rue the absence of Michael Ballack. Their skill in converting aerial balls also deserted them as became evident from the 13 corners they failed to take advantage of.

Brazil were not too intimidating in attack either. Rivaldo and Ronaldinho could rarely release the final pass and on the few occasions they did in the first half, Ronaldo misfired. Even then, the German defence was ripped open thrice in the opening session. In contrast, Brazil hardly allowed a shot on the goal and this piece of statistic proved decisive. Brazil won because their defence stood firm, while Germany paid for being more error prone, including an unexpected twist to the tale of Oliver Kahn.

Another factor worked in Brazil�s favour. Their attack, even with the Rs not firing, was superior. Scolari knew his team would score and tried to shift the attention of his players to protecting. He had to work more on curbing the tendency to get carried away. This Brazil team showed they had learnt the lessons by heart. It was a victory for Scolari�s Brazil that played according to the demand of the day and didn�t try a trip back to the days of the Beautiful Game.


June 30: 
I expected a better organised Brazil. I expected as organised a Germany, though. Somehow, there was a fair amount of disparity between the Brazil I have been watching throughout the tournament and in the Brazil of the final. A fifth World Cup is never a fluke, a 2-0 scoreline cannot be wished away as one either. But when the halfline of the best football team in the world fails to function, you have doubts over the viability of the entire set-up. Don�t get me wrong. Brazil are deserving winners, but I will attribute it to cartloads of individual brilliance. What do you do with players like that?

In the same breath I add that Rivaldo�s was a sad story. He was being cut off, and he did not seem motivated till the first goal. I missed Michael Ballack in the German team. Who knows what the result would have been, if he wasn�t sitting on the bench Sunday?

So let�s, for the time being, fall back on the two I had talked about before the final � Ronaldo and Oliver Kahn.

The basics of football say it is about a game to be enjoyed and in which goals are scored. There were two today, one mundane, one frighteningly beautiful in execution. Both from Ronaldo. But I�ll be forced to temper my comment with a reorientation of the Ronaldo theory. This man has scored eight goals in seven matches, a record in itself, but in the final he was more in the spotlight, perhaps, because of his misses. I would not want to doubt his fitness, but fingers point that way. Then, by the same argument, if an unfit striker can score twice, well�

Kahn started off true to his stature, and for a long time it seemed Ronaldo was losing this duel. Charisma wasn�t in short supply either, neither was talent. So what was it? If it wasn�t Ronaldo�s fitness, it was the crumbling Brazilian midfield or maybe even a mover in the German ranks � wing half Bernd Schneider. Now we have another candidate, so let me tread carefully.

Kahn made the cardinal error of attempting a chest collection in that position, not expected from a goalkeeper of his stature. He spilled it. You don�t spill anything to a Brazilian team that has a Ronaldo (even if in suspect fitness). If there was a duel, that was when Kahn had lost in the draw. That was what put Kahn out of the competition, because that was what gave the heart back to Ronaldo. The best thing about a superstar is his heart. Genius always comes escorted by passion. They form a dear pair. You might want to separate the two, but androids are still in the sci-fi stage. Once Ronaldo got the feel of that goal, once he could smell the ultimate victory, he realised it was also the only ball he had snatched so far.

There was a paradigm shift in attitude thereafter. A realisation that brings out those ethereal flavours. Thereafter it was the same old Ronaldo.

However, I was also noticing the German half line. If you really are able to use pure energy in association with method, you probably land up with a Schneider. What did he do? It is easier to list what he didn�t. He snatched, he chased, he distributed, he transformed potential into kinetic energy, and he defended. A wing half has many hats to wear, quite like the attacking bit that Brazil�s defender Lucio wears. Okay, he did not score goals, but being a German, he knew his duties. When the Germans were turning a move back through a frustrating German prescription of back four and goalkeeper, they also depended a lot on the likes of Schneider to launch those quick counterattacks.

That is what German soccer feeds on. That was what almost did Brazil in today. I guess there was a bit of luck in the Brazilian victory, albeit Schneider.

Somehow, we need to address how soccer should and should not be played. We need to understand why the Ronaldos care to sweat with so much talent in store, and why the Schneiders would possibly succeed in a corporate world as well.

Voting from my heart, I say �aye� to Ronaldo. Voting from my head, I cast in favour of Bernd Schneider.


Bangalore, June 30: 


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Skyline Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (2-6-1) Dance Royale (Prakash) 1; Semoran 2; Dark Shadow 3. Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 11; 33; 13; Quinella: 117; Shp: 169; Tanala: 386. Fav: Dance Royale (2).

2. Nad Al Sheba Plate 1,400m: (2-5-4) Authentic Power (I. Chisty) 1; Alto 2; Ozone 3. Tote: Win Rs 23; Place: 15; 17; 50; Quinella: 81; Shp: 47; Tanala: 1,307. Fav: Authentic Power (2).

3. Skyline Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (10-6-3) Tribal Dance (Shobhan) 1; Diamonds Galore 2; Broken Silence 3. Tote: Win Rs 44; Place: 18; 14; 17; Quinella: 58; Shp: 39; Tanala: 266. Fav: Diamonds Galore (6).

4. Romantic Dancer Plate 1,400m: (2-9-1) Sea Legend (Shroff) 1; It�s A Steal 2; Dil Maangemore 3. Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 14; 13; 36; Quinella: 33; Shp: 39; Tanala: 713. Fav: Sea Legend (2).

5. M. Ali Asker Memorial Plate Div-I, 1,200m: (2-7-3) Triple King (Storai) 1; Star of Heaven 2; Pristine Beauty 3. Tote: Win Rs 234; Place: 46; 23; 17; Quinella: 616; Shp: 48; Tanala: 4,326. Fav: Triple King (2).

6. Hampi Cup, 1,800m: (12-6-11) Star Strider (Kader) 1; Ampersand 2; Crepusculaire 3. Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 14; 46; 28; Quinella: 194; Shp: 170; Tanala: 1,549. Fav: Crepusculaire (12).

7. Juvenile Sprinters� Million 1,200m: (1-5-2) Noble Executive (Gallagher) 1; Name And Fame 2. Premier Classe 3. Tote: Win Rs 99; Place: 22; 15; 13; Quinella: 250; Shp: 43; Tanala: 1,993. Fav: Premier Classe (3).

8. Beautiful Babe Plate 1,400m: (1-2-4) Saladin (Appu) 1; Balalaika 2; Crown Ice 3. Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 15; 22; 17; Quinella: 139; Shp: 109; Tanala: 594. Fav: Crystal Charm (7).

9. M. Ali Asker Memorial Plate Div-II 1,200m: (2-9-1) Patriotic Shobhan) 1; Dover 2; Shara 3. Tote: Win Rs 64; Place: 21; 17; 23; Quinella: 169; Shp: 38; Tanala: 1,634. Fav: Starjo (6).

Jackpot: Rs 1,88,125; (C) Rs 7,055

Treble: (i) Rs 228; (ii) Rs 2,229; (iii) 2,123.


Maintained by Web Development Company