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Updated: February 11, 2014 00:01 IST

Pace of the game has changed, Paul Breitner says

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Paul Breitner. Photo: Monica Tiwari
Paul Breitner. Photo: Monica Tiwari

Despite Brazil being the host for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, former Germany footballer Paul Breitner has rejected the notion that the South American countries will possess a geographical advantage. Instead, the 1974 World Cup winner believes that Spain and Germany will meet in the final in Rio de Janeiro.

“The most important change in the last 10-15 years in football has been the increase in the pace of the game. Without high-speed football, no team has a chance today. Brazilians don’t play at the same tempo as the Europeans,” Breitner told The Hindu.

The German was in the city to identify 10 under-16 Indian players for the 2014 FC Bayern Youth Cup, organised by adidas, to be held in Munich later this year.

Even though many South Americans regularly excel in European competitions, Breitner refused to place either Argentina or Brazil on the same pedestal as Germany. Neither did he acknowledge Brazil’s successful campaign in the Confederations Cup last year. Rather, Breitner chose to valorise his country’s team.

Young team

The former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid defensive midfielder dismissed apprehensions over Germany’s mental strength. “We lost because of inexperience, not because of the mentality. It is still a young team. We have around 30 players of international standard. Even if we lose in Brazil, this team can play the next World Cup,” said Breitner, referring to Germany’s defeats at the hands of Italy (2012 Euros) and Spain (2010 World Cup).

The 62-year-old also offered insights into the transformation that has resulted in the return of Germany to the coterie of the elite over the past decade.

“When we exited Euro 2004 at the group stage, it brought an end to a tremendously bad period for us in major tournaments. We realised that we had educated kids to become football workers, and not players. Only 30 per cent of our focus was on skill. In training, we were making youngsters run round on the field.

“Then we changed our methods. We gave them the ball from the start to finish. We not only encouraged them to create from their position on the field, but to defend as well. This took four to six years.”

Long-term participation

India would benefit from such coaching regimes as well. Reassuringly, Breitner claims, Bayern aims to achieve long-term participation in Indian football.

“We have to be present in India. We have to demonstrate the high class and organisation of our football. Currently, there is a big distance between the English Premier League and Bundesliga. But we will bridge the gap.”

At the Ambedkar Stadium on Sunday, Pune FC won the 2014 FC Bayern Youth Cup India as it defeated Bangalore FC 4-2 on penalties in the final. At the end of full-time, the score was 1-1.

The Indian squad (for FC Bayern Youth finals): Aniket Jadhav, Krishanu Santra, Manoranjan Singh, Omkar More, Sebastian Thangmuhangsang (all Pune FC), Mani Vannan, R. Pradip, R. Prashant, Shelton Paul (all Bangalore FC) and Shivam Sarkar (Hindustan FC). Stand-by: N.S. Singh, W. Muirang (both Shillong Lajong) and Faisal (Hindustan FC).

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