Atendendo a algumas respostas apreciativas e inúmeras ignorativas, aqui está......

08 julho 2010

World cup post mortem

There are 2 more games to be played, but I hope these will be my final thoughts. The Dutch deserve to win, although they appeared to have the benefit of knowing that van Bommel would not get a card unless and until he asked for one. Not only based on past unrealized glories: they won all games because they never stopped playing for a win - not when they were ahead, not when they were behind, not when a tie would have been enough. They neither feared the strong teams nor misunderestimated the weak.

Uruguay is welcome back to the top. Even more than the Dutch, they kept playing until the final whistle, and just barely lost to a stronger side. Uruguay was drawn in the only group with more than token opposition. Forlán was the most decisive player in the tournament. When he could no longer run he left space for a fresher player, and it almost worked. His and Suárez exit will not be forgotten. Uruguay's playing is what we watch soccer for.

Germany reverted to its usual bureaucratic game, which has brought them many uninspiring wins. The quarterfinal game, which I did not watch, was a fluke. The surprise is how invertebrate the team was in the semifinal. They seemed to be content with the defeat. The coach took out any player that dared try to make a forward pass. Paul the Octopus would have shown more spine, and better judgement.

Spain showed the qualities that brought the Furia a long series of undistinguished defeats. The players are more interested in showing off their skill than in going for the goal. They pass the ball sideways rather than to a better placed teammate who may score, a tactic that gains them favor with less discriminating supporters. The coach, more afraid of being blamed for a defeat than he is interested in winning, at the end tried to snatch a defeat from the hands of victory by taking out his best players. This is how Spain was eliminated in the previous cups. A more combative side like Uruguay or Paraguay would have punished Spain with at least an equalizer, but mollusk-like Germany was already defeated.

Brazil had 3 superior backs - Juan, Lúcio, and Maicon - and 3 skillful but irregular forwards - Robinho, Kaká, and Fabiano. In between, 4 players so nondescript that none had even a nickname. Granted, any team that cannot draft a Domingos da Guia, or a Zito, or a Gérson, needs a Dunga, a Beckenbauer, or some garden-variety bastian. A couple of them perhaps, but all of 4 invite disaster. A firm opponent can neutralize such a team without much trouble, and a single error ends the tournament. Dunga could not bring himself to a riskier formation even when there was nothing left to lose.

Since 1974 Brazil has oscillated between improvisation and bookish devotion to foreign schools. With the worthy exceptions of Telê and Felipão, the post of coach has alternated between amateurs such as Zagallo and phys ed teachers such as Cláudio Coutinho and Parreira. Dunga qualifies in both camps. If their principles had been followed, Pelé and Garrincha would not have played in 1958 because they were untested, and Pelé would have been excluded in 1970 because he was past his prime. In the same way that Falcão did not play in 1978, and Romário did not play in 1990 and was almost excluded in 1994, Brazil's creative alternatives were not in S Africa. I take no satisfaction in the fact that my worst fears about the age of Dunga were fully realized.

The saddest case is Argentina. "Gegen diesen Idioten muss ich verlieren!" Maradona must have screamed, like Aaron Nimzovich. He had qualities as a coach, and also defects. Dealt a hand with too many great forwards and too few strong backs, the qualities lost. It is a pity.
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