Thursday, 20 January 2011

What Is Joga Bonito In German?

After the World Cup there was a general stirring among fans globally and some sheepish looks. We’d all been waiting for the festival of football to delight and entrance. Instead it was flat and forgettable. Aside from the lunacy of Diego Maradona reaching global audiences once again, easily the best thing about South Africa 2010 was the German side. They were outstanding. The destructions of Australia, England and Argentina were all major tournament highlights. The lightening quick counter-attacks of Ozil et al must still leave Barry with nightmares. And the best (or worst depending on your stand-point) is that the 2010 side was just the appetiser. The Germans might just be the ones to give Brazil a lesson in Joga Bonito on their own soil in 2014.

Three reasons suggest that the Germans might triumph in Brazil. Firstly, the side in South Africa was already packed with young players who will only just be entering their peak in 2014. Ozil, Muller, Khedira and Boateng were all first choice and will be around the 26 year old mark in Brazil. Muller and Ozil were two of the breakthrough players of the tournament and three of the four moved to bigger clubs after the tournament. Muller was already at double-winners and European finalists Bayern.

Secondly, some older squad members will still make it to Brazil and, although for those who won’t the replacements already exist. Klose won’t be spear-heading the attack in four years time but Mario Gomez has rediscovered his Stuttgart form and looks very able to take on the role. Only 25 this season he will most likely be the forward pivot of the German side in 2014. Mertesacker and Schweinsteiger both shone in South Africa and will be only just turning 30. Having two stand out goalkeepers is already more than most countries can dream of and the Germans already have Neuer and Adler. Only Spain will have selection problems as they struggle to narrow it down to three out of Casillas, Valdes, Reina and De Gea.

Finally, there is Mario Gotze. A child even in the incredibly young German squad, aged 18 Gotze has been the revelation of the season at Dortmund. Honigstein remarked that he was the only player ever to be substituted for being too good. Although the hype might be too much given that Gotze has only made 12 league starts in his entire career, it’s hard not to be excited about such a talent. Very excited.

The last German side was quick, technically gifted and enjoyable to watch. With four years to mature, the side that kicks off in Brazil should surpass even that. Of course four years is a long way off and Lowe might be sacked or find employment elsewhere. Key players could get injured just before the tournament. But then Ballack was sidelined just before South Africa and nobody gave the Germans a real shout before the start. As a nation the Germans have a knack for tournament football matched only by the Brazilians and possibly the Italians. It is never smart to write them off and in several years they might be the very best Europe can offer against the South Americans.

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