Posts Tagged ‘Germany’
July 9, 2010 | by David Wallace-Wells
In the World Cup, as in any tournament, half of the field is eliminated in the first round, and half again in each succeeding round—a method of crowning a champion devised by Zeno and guaranteed to bring the whole thrilling spectacle to a buyer’s-remorse anticlimax. (You can see the diminishing interest in the now-trickling coverage in outlets both mainstream and semi-pro.) Whichever second-rate European nation triumphs on Sunday—if they can control the midfield as smugly as they did against Germany in Wednesday’s semifinal it will surely be Spain—will look a lot less truly top-dog than simply last-man-standing.
In his Winner-Take-All Society, the academic Robert Frank famously described the American economy as such a tournament, devoted to the production of champions at the expense of the welfare of many many losers; in South Africa this summer we will have thirty-one of them to one likely-uninspiring winner, a fairly devastating ratio. But it’s not only the partisans of those thirty-one countries that’ll be left bewildered, wondering what might have been, all the rest of us will, too, indeed anyone who paid any attention to the opening of the tournament and its round-the-clock stream of giddy action and deluded, infinite-horizon expectation. The games played in those early days were often stilted by deliberative tactics, player caution, and coaching prudence, and their outcomes were rarely decisive. But they embodied what another academic, Barry Schwartz, might’ve called the paradox of chance—we want each game to contain all the possibilities and promise of the entire cup, to unfold as though the shape and character of the whole month-long tournament hangs completely on its outcome, but we don’t want any particular result to disclose the possibility of any other. On this score a tournament is designed to disappoint. But those early games offer, always, the best of both worlds, yielding perhaps less quality of play than the contests that follow but making up for it, many times over, in volume. Or, as I like to call it, abundance.
July 6, 2010 | by Will Frears
The semi-finals of this World Cup have led to an earth shattering cosmic twist: everybody now likes Germany.
Most of the credit for this goes down to the way they play. Germany was dazzling to watch, especially in the crushing of Argentina and England. They lost their captain, big star and only member of the team to play outside Germany, Michael Ballack1, a month before the finals began. The team they brought to South Africa is made up of young players who mostly came up through the German youth system (and many of whom helped the country win last year's European youth championship). They’re a marvelous spectacle—they keep their shape, looking to play on the counter attack. And when they do, the ball moves so swiftly and intelligently from one end to the other that no one can keep up with them. They also seem largely free of the diving, grandstanding, and waving of imaginary cards. Unlike so many other teams in the tournament, they get on with things.
Speaking of diving and imaginary card waving, Spain came into the tournament as the European favorites, with ball movement and a promised redemption for previous failures. But even if they win, they will leave with their haloes gleaming a little less brightly. We have been denied the glory of Xavi and Andres Iniesta running the midfield at a tempo and geometry they dictate. Instead we have been forced to watch the odious Sergio Busquets collapse in a heap every time someone looks at him funny, while Xavi and Xabi Alonso get in each other’s way. Up front, Spain has been entirely dependent on goals from David Villa. Fernando Torres, who came into the tournament as the Spanish golden boy, has had so bad a time of it that The Guardian—in a misguided attempt to salvage his reputation—called him a more talented Emile Heskey. Perhaps worse, it turns out he dyes his hair. Read More »
- He was injured in a tackle (and I use that word in its loosest sense) put in by the Ghanaian midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng, whose half-brother Jerome is the German left back. The Boateng brothers apparently no longer speak.
June 18, 2010 | by David Wallace-Wells
It seemed for about a week that this would be a tactical tournament—a dullish Cup, shadowed by Inter’s Champions League triumph, marked by negative play and cautious counterattacking lineups, and ultimately crowning, perhaps more decisively than a champion, the incisive geeksite ZonalMarking.net. German efficiency seemed the closest we’d get to actual electricity.
How quickly things change—and how high a German defeat lifts the hearts of fans the world over. For my money, Joachim Löw can still boast the tournament’s top performing side, as well as its top performing cashmere: Germany looked as dangerous a man down against Serbia as any team this side of Argentina, and, having gone down to that inferior squad, may no longer be plagued by the panic of preeminence that seemed to trip them up in a lackluster first half. Ghana, beware.
The true maestros of today’s early-game tournament resurrection were, of course, the referees. There will surely be howls of outrage in the coming hours and days over the nine yellow cards (six in the first thirty-six minutes) in Serbia’s defeat of Germany, and over the preposterously disallowed U.S. goal against Slovenia, which would have delivered three points to the Americans and made them the first team in the tournament’s history to recover from a 2-0 halftime deficit and actually win. But as fans of the game, we shouldn’t be howling—or howling too long, anyway. However erratic, those decisions are not injustices, they are refereeing, and a happy reminder that soccer is not a game of numbers, like poker, mastered by biding one’s time, but a game, beneath the tactics, of chance. You buy your ticket and you take the ride.