“I think we deserved to win”
These were the words from Mats Hummels in a post-match interview. His goal booked the tickets for the whole team; to the semi-finals – for the record 4th consecutive time. He was calm and composed while defending and yet he was fierce and aggressive during the attack. He was basically untamed, when Kroos supplied the ball inside the penalty area. Running inside the box, removing Varane out of his way only with a hand, he beautifully places his header on the top right corner. And then the joy erupts amongst the fans all around the world, especially Germany. I saw how people go crazy with a goal or after a miss. After an amazing save or after a bad foul. Well I enjoyed most of those emotions. I would rather say I enjoyed all of them. Hummels gave us a reason to smile.
But was it the only difference between the 2 teams?
I don’t think so. Although France came very close to scoring twice, they were not at par with the German team on any aspect. Their attack was not up to the mark, neither was their mid field. Defence was somewhat okay but they could have done much better with Kosscielny. If you will take my opinion, I would say he is overly-under-rated. The sight of Varane pushed off by a single hand was insulting for a defender. They substituted Sakho later but then it was too late. They had already conceded a goal before, and they were trying to get back in the game somehow. They also brought Giroud and Remy but nothing much comes out of those substitutions as it was really too late. Their attack was not spear headed. They were going as all guns blazing during their group matches but that didn’t help him to surpass the wall of Berlin. Germans, on the other hand, were tough-mentally and physically. They put all their efforts till the end with a mind-set to defend the lead.
And they did it pretty well. It reminded me of old Germany when they used to score a goal and then defend their lead with “the German efficiency”. They were not playing the beautiful football. From past 8-10 years, they are considered as the counter attack kings who play some really beautiful football. Who attack single-mindedly and produce some beautiful goals. But that doesn’t guarantee you results. Now with the induction of Guardiola as the Bayern Munich coach and change in tactics from Joachim Low himself, we are seeing a different Germany. Now they don’t only play to attack, but now they know how to win even when they are playing badly. As Mertesacker said, after the close win in extra time against Algeria, “We won, we did our job. Doesn’t matter how we won”.
No one’s going to remember the brutal thrashing of England and Argentina in the last world cup if they manage to win this one. They have already shown that they are willing to give anything in order to claim the biggest trophy in the world of football. Winning over France just by one goal doesn’t say ‘it was not as convincing as the win over England or Argentina’. When you are in knockout, all that matters is a win. With Thiago Silva and Neymar out for the semi-finals, Brazil is currently limping on their way to the finals. Suspension of Silva is a bigger blow to them as compared to Neymar’s injury. People might disagree with me, but well that doesn’t change my opinion. Silva was holding back the defence quite brilliantly, the captain scored the first goal in the must win-leading with an example. Neymar can be lethal and he is (no doubt) a match winner. But he was not very effective in last few games.
Nonetheless, the point is it’s quite difficult to decide whether you want to lose a leg or a hand (if you can save the other one). Sadly, Brazil lost both of them. I feel sorry for them.
So attack doesn’t always win you matches. But defence does. You can’t lose if you haven’t conceded any goal. In the quarterfinals, all three goals from Brazil and Germany were scored by defenders. They held the ball pretty well and prohibited any danger. They won it for their respective teams. Is attack the best form of defence? Sometimes, Yes. Always, NO.
I will wind this up with a quote which is well famous in Germany.
Attack wins games. Defence wins titles.