FIFA 2014

Germans ‘pass’ the Spaniards

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, left, winner of the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper, stands with Argentina's Lionel Messi, right, winner of the Golden Ball award as the tournament's top player, after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, left, winner of the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper, stands with Argentina's Lionel Messi, right, winner of the Golden Ball award as the tournament's top player, after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)   | Photo Credit: Martin Meissner

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Four years ago in South Africa, Spain made relentless, delectable and stunningly successful passes as it tiki-taka-ed its way to a maiden World Cup triumph. The Spanish had completed 3929 passes; the conversion rate was a highly impressive 80 per cent.

The Germans did even better in Brazil, as they completed 4157 passes ( 82 per cent). The team they beat in the final, Argentina, completed 3344 passes ( 77 per cent).

Brazil did worse, with 2731 passes ( 76 per cent). The other losing semifinalist, the Netherlands, fared better, with 3000 passes ( 78 per cent).

The Germans proved in the final that 11 good men are more equal than one genius. But, their individual efforts also counted, as Philipp Lahm completed 562 passes in Brazil, more than any other player. In fact, of the top five passers, four are Germans — Toni Kroos ( 537), Bastian Schweinsteiger ( 412) and Jerome Boateng ( 379), apart from Lahm. The only non-German in the top five is, not surprisingly, an Argentine — Javier Mascherano ( 536).

You need to defend well too to be world champion. And the Germans excelled in defence, winning 91 of the 110 tackles they made, completing 88 of the 104 clearances they attempted and making 24 saves. The Argentines won 75 of their 118 tackles. Brazil, of course, fared worse: of its 141 tackles, it won only 95.

As for defending individually, though, Mascherano shone, as he made 22 tackles, winning 10 of them, and recovering 49 balls.

The Germans played fair too, as they collected just six cards from seven games; of the eight quarterfinalists they were the only one to average less than one card per game. Brazil averaged two per game, gathering 14 cards. Holland got 11 and Argentina eight.

Holland topped the list of fouls, making 126 of them, three more than Brazil. Germany made 91, while Argentina was guilty only on 80 occasions. It is interesting to note that two of the ‘gentlest’ teams contested the final.

The Germans also proved the hardest-working lot in Brazil, as the players covered more distances than their rivals. Thomas Muller alone ran 84 km, in 682 minutes. Kroos ( 82.6 km), Lahm ( 81) Benedikt Howedes ( 80.4) made it four out of five for Germany. The only non-German in the list, yet again, was Mascherano ( 81.2).

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:04:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/fifa-2014/germans-pass-the-spaniards/article6210647.ece

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