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Life has changed
In all my football-watching years, among everything that’s happened on the pitch there was always one constant: never write Germany off, and that gave me some kind of sense of normality.
What am I supposed to do now?
…Wow so Germany have had the most English World Cup ever. Could we really end up having the most German World Cup and win the thing.
Ed’s unpopular opinions
Here are some unpopular opinions that I don’t expect other people will share:
* Germany going out is a bad thing for the World Cup. It’s funny that a good side have been eliminated but they have been more entertaining to watch than Argentina or France, for example. That said, Group F was tremendous fun, the way who was through and who went out was only decided right at the end of both matches, with even a ‘relegation struggle on the last day of the season’ Anxious Wait For Results To Filter Through TM.
* Newspapers running headlines about the definition of schadenfreude should have a similar one prepared about hubris.
* England need as many of the better teams as possible in the tournament for as long as possible. Gareth Southgate has been incredibly careful to manage expectations and keep everyone’s feet firmly on the ground. The longer England can go before they begin thinking they actually have a chance of winning it, the more chance they will have of actually winning it.
* I’m obviously biased but Serbia tanked that game by not playing Luka Milivojevic.
They miss Klose
It’s time to give due credit to Rudi Voller for getting to the final in 2002 with ‘the worst Germany team ever’. Based on the last three games, we now know who ‘the worst Germany team ever’ is. I don’t think enough was made of the absence of Klose, the tournament striker par excellence. It seems a strange thing to say about a World Cup winner, a golden boot winner and a record goalscorer, but is it possible that he was underrated, not just for his goals but his ability to lead the line? Mario Gomez has never been good enough, Werner is still raw but could come good in future tournaments and Reus had only just returned to the international setup.
…They were much better when their strikers came from Poland.
Is Neymar rubbish?
Ooooh, Neymar took a corner! Let’s bang on about him for the whole game. Perhaps talk about how you could even watch him stand still, then say the game was all about him.
He missed a couple of really good opportunities and ran down a lot of blind alleys. He did that rabona control thing though, and backheeled it once, so he must be amazing!
I hope someone batters Brazil – it’s almost a shame the Germans are out. Ha! No it’s not.
Dan Wardle (MUFC since 1983).
The perfect summer
‘…and the English raised their glasses of ice cold gin and tonic, toasting German defeat, whilst quietly waiting in anticipation for their countrymen to finally lift the World Cup. They would go on to beat Spain 4-0 in the final, with all four goals going in off the arse of the arse that is Sergio Ramos. Later that summer brexit would be revealed as just a joke that went a bit too far, and Boris Johnson, upon resigning for being the biggest c*** since Piers Morgan, would see his days out flipping burgers at McDonald’s. His countrymen would go on to live happily ever after. The end.’
Sean, Freiburg (LFC)
Paul (Hahaha) Glasgow
…That last line from Ms Winterburn was wonderful, almost better than the result itself. Bravo!
TGWolf (What a World Cup) THFC, Ingerland
…What was that about Germany and nothing being impossible?
Have a nice day!
Lawrence , London
Stop enjoying Germany’s failure
I may not fully understand the British obsession with Germany, but I’ve always read your site with an appreciation for how oftentimes dispassionate and seemingly logical you are when it comes to analyzing and assessing the state of football or even the state of the world through the lens of football. But the mixture of joy and vindictiveness in your writing on Germany’s loss makes you sound like the Sun or whatever other populist rag I’m supposed to mention here to sound like I’m in the know. They played poorly and lost two games out of three. It could happen to anyone like it’s happened to your lot plenty of times, but more analysis and less passion would be appreciated. At the very least, it will save you having to read my piece when England eventually and inevitably fall short for reasons you’d plainly see if you weren’t getting a little too caught up in the hype. Right then, stiff upper lip, don’t betray your real feelings, and certainly don’t be caught dancing naked in the back garden after dark singing about how a team that isn’t even yours lost before we thought they would. Nobody laughs at your humiliation, it’s all in your head. You’ve made this whole thing up and you look silly expressing it out loud.
Don’t compare England with Germany
Just finished reading Sarah Winterburn’s article on Germany exiting the World Cup. Yes, it was very informative and I agree with practically all of it.
If there was ever a line which I felt summed up the hype of the English media it was comparing England to Germany: ‘In 2018, ‘they remain the antithesis of England but for once we can say that with some degree of pride. We can talk about England’s pace, exuberance, desire, togetherness and mental strength’.
Fellow Irishman Roy Keane was correct in the ITV studio after the Panama game when he was telling everyone to calm down, it’s only Panama and Tunisia. The Germans were in a much more difficult group.
So to conclude, yes England have been impressive so far, they can only beat what is in front of them and winning this World Cup is not impossible, but let’s slow down on comparing them to Germany, who have had one bad tournament, it is the first time they have not qualified from the group stage at a World Cup. Germany have four World Cups, England have one.
England might win it
The styles of recent World Cup-winning teams have reflected the trends at club-level football that were becoming successful at the time and would continue to be successful in the following few years.
Italy’s defending won them the 2006 World Cup – Mourinho’s backs-to-the-wall tactics helped Inter win the Champions League in 2010. After that, the tiki-taka of Spain and Barcelona became so well-honed it became hard to stop, with Spain winning the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012 and Barca winning the Champions League in 2011 and 2015.
Germany’s 2014-winning team combined some of the technical skill and ball retention of tiki-taka but added more physicality and, arguably, more mental strength and determination to get over the line. Cue Real Madrid, using a very similar approach, winning three Champions League titles in the following seasons.
Liverpool were a surprise success in the Champions League last season, playing a concentrated version of the Gegenpress – going all-out to score enough goals to win in the first half or even 30 minutes, then dropping the tempo right down in the second half with the game safe. Will that be the prevalent tactic at club level over the next four-five seasons? And if so, does that mean England – for whom Southgate has adopted a version of these tactics – are a contender for this World Cup?
Dan, (Logic 1-0 Football) Hassocks
Playing for second is mental
I cannot believe I’m seeing anyone, let alone ‘respected’ journalists suggesting England should choose to finish second. Picture the scenario…. You’re 26 years old and have been called up to represent your country at the World Cup. Something you have dreamed about all of your life. Something you worked towards every day of your professional career. Your friends and family all sent congratulatory texts, made phone calls and told you how proud they were before you boarded the plane to fly with the other 22 best English footballers. Your manager is young, refreshing, intelligent and is taking the team forward – you trust him, and after winning the first two group games, you’re starting to believe – maybe we can do this.. maybe I can be a part of history.. maybe I can help take it home.
Thursday 28th June: Gareth calls you in. Tells you you’re starting tonight against Belgium. You’re starting a World Cup match for England. “Take it steady tonight thouogh ok? Don’t exert yourself, we’re going for second place and we only get that by losing. So don’t do anything special, if you lose your man on a corner, that wouldn’t be the worst thing ok? Wink-wink.”
Imagine that sickening feeling in your gut. Imagine how quickly your respect for the manager would evaporate as he tells you to “not try”. Southgate has numerous ticks next to his name at the moment, whether that is moving on older players out of the squad, attempting to build bridges with the media, being open minded to new formations…. but undoubtedly his biggest tick is the fact that he has inspired confidence in a young and dynamic team, and brought belief in to a nation of people who have spent the last two years saying “nah we aren’t gonna win it, got Brazil/France/Germany (lol) written all over it”.
To send a team out to lose would undo everything he has worked towards. England’s biggest asset at the moment isn’t Harry Kane’s finishing. It’s not Kieran Trippier’s deliveries. And sadly, it’s not J-Lingz dance moves (imagine if it was). It is the confidence and belief that is flowing through and around the team at the moment. Beat Belgium, get through the group on nine points, and I would genuinely fancy this team against anyone left in the tournament. Playing for second may put us in the ‘easier’ side of the tournament – but you can almost guarantee the loss of confidence would damage us more than any Brazilian or Frenchman could.
Nope…come on Belgium
So seeing as what’s just gone on Wednesday night…gee whizz. Are we allowed to talk about this England coming second thing again?
The golden ticket has been handed to us and are we really going to refuse it, and then try to justify it to you on the early plane ride home?
The right hand side of the draw, or bottom half if you like, only has Spain in it that is a nation of considerable might. Croatia is the next best but on our day, England could take them.
Would it be wrong to will on Hazard and co to beat your own country for the greater good?
Lose the battle, win the war…
Waterloo was in Belgium wasn’t it?
We could get Sweden…Abba? Waterloo? Belgium? England coming 2nd in a group like we always do anyway.
This is all coming together no?
And for all those that insist on momentum and keeping a winning mentality:
Since 1966 England have never beaten an established football nation in a knockout game at the World Cup. Ever.
We always fall to the Argentina, the Germany, the Portugal even. So what makes you think England will be able to beat Brazil, France then Spain back to back to back all of a sudden?
Cause we beat Panama? Get real.