3 points regarding the players of the Olympics Rio 2016

Takeaways of the Olympics Rio 2016 Part1: Players

1. Players of the tournament:

There are probably millions of coaches all over the world to teach the youngest beginners. And one of the first things they try to teach them is: Who scores the most isnt necessarily the best player. It is interesting however how often the older “experts” then are going exactly for this choice. And we would say taking penalties into account is yet another level of “expertise”. So here we go instead with the good footballers. However it was to decide where to put the focus on. The most successful players have not been the best. The best couldnt shine a lot apart from some group matches. Brazil started very bright. But didnt later. It is always a compromise : (more…)

Olympic Final 2016: Germany – Sweden 2:1 (0:0)

Situation:
If someone placed a bet before the games with Germany against Sweden for the final it would have won a serious amount of money. But even more so after the group stage. Sweden just reaching the final eight as 3rd placed team of the weakest group and Germany came just one goal better than Australia in as second ranked team of their group.
However Sweden parked the bus against the USA and Brazil then and won both matches after penalty shoot out. While Germany confirmed again their historic ability to scrape through a tournament somehow and got the job done with wins over China and Canada to whom they had lost in the group stages.

Headline: Who would have thought that it would be that entertaining

Only a fool? Nothing. Absolutely nothing could have given the slightest hint that this match would be so entertaining. A lot of things worked out to be different from the previous matches and got more interesting than expected. It wasnt much high class football. But it wasnt that bad as some were afraid either. And it was enthralling at the end with a goal so palpable every moment on both sides.
We expected the team tactics – or maybe the lack thereof – to be an interesting aspect. But we didnt expect it to be like that. In the preview we doubted that Sweden would really go for counter attacks – but they did at least much more then expected. We doubted that Sweden would use the fresh legs of Schough – they did. We even asked not quite seriously whether they would start with 4 forwards. At least they started leaving the additional defender from the Brazil match out.

And thus it was a match with quite some hot action in both boxes and chances on both ends. It might well have been the match with the most shots on goal of all ko-stage matches of the whole tournament. Anybody remember the shots on goal of the last three (or more?) mens WC finals? But mainly because it was not dominated by tired legs like the bronze medal match as well. Seemed the final day the girls were better able to forget their fatigued legs or have the semis only been more mental stress because the big dream was so close? But let us have a look at

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Olympics Rio 2016 Finals Preview

Time to say good bye:

18.00: Brazil – Canada (for Bronze)
22.30: Sweden – Germany (for Gold)
(Times CET as always here)

So that is the end of the last major global tournament for the next 3 years. And while many already have said goodbye until France 2019 it ends with a surprising final: Sweden – Germany. Which means rather not with a climax that we had been pampered with in past finals quite often. But with a big exclamation mark that the top teams for the first time ever have been unable to finally scrape through like in the past. The competition is getting closer now even for the very top. And makes them look for a way to be able to convert their superior class of individuals on the field into the required results.

Apart from that the Olympics also showed their inferior value compared to the WC not only by missing some teams but mainly by having such a tight schedule which makes it much more difficult to keep the focus constantly high and thus opening the field even more for casualties. There probably is a broad consensus that the WC was dominated by the leading and finally won by the best team and the Olympics will certainly not.

Sweden and Germany are coming from 3rd respectively 2nd places (just). (more…)

Olympics Rio 2016 Semi Finals

No further step forward

We planned to post individual reports for the matches. The four matches a day previously simply had been too much and would have meant a loss of quality or the ability to look at all of them properly. Now we had two and wanted to start off. But unfortunately the football on display had not been enough to make a sense of a deeper analysis of match details. The overall picture is whats more interesting.
But this time it was not a positive next step to view. Quite the opposite. The closing gap between the Top3 national teams and the teams behind is good to see. But only when it is based on improvements of the chasing pack. There was not too much to see from that. Only Canada at spells could again show they are coming strongly. And with 4 victories and 1 defeat they could be still considered second best team not without a reason.

But as expected overall there has not been much in between the four remaining teams and it mainly came down so far to the lucky one situation to decide who will get Gold and who (more…)

Olympics Rio 2016 Semi Finals Preview

So that really are the last four:

18.00: Brazil – Sweden
21.00: Canada – Germany
(Times CET as always here)

FIFA ranking no 1,3,5 all out in the quarters. All against lower ranked opponents. We havent been used to such an anti-establishment revolt in womens football. And would you believe it. Germany the only top5 team remaining in the last 4. That makes the competition really wide open.

And we must reshuffle our predictions after the USA are out. (We picked them as 60% favorites in our preview here. And pretty much the same statements are still very valid).

We had Brazil expected to do better than at the WC in Canada. Because of the home advantage as second reason. But more because more players are playing in demanding league competitions now. But the trend isnt their friend at the moment. Marta and Formiga are still very much key figures and both beyond 30 and thus clearly with more problems with the tight schedule. And some of the players still are not so used to consistently playing in the red zone. And probably have never met such public exposure. But the support of the home crowd in the stadium can make you forget a lot of pain.

We had Sweden always as very capable individuals with possibly one of the worst tactical managements (after France?). They could also have done much better against the USA football-wise (their counter attacks far too cautious and not with the right players in the right places mostly). Sweden of course have a match won that might have all sorts of additional aftereffects. A confidence boost is certain. But how do they channel it? From what we know about them not at all. Every player will make her own story from it. So it wont change much regarding their performance.

We have expected Canada to do well with Janine Beckie and Jessie Fleming. And Canadas boost of self confidence is even greater than for the Swedes. Now having France eliminated. But they are not so used to handle it. The older players have the experience. But it can backfire. Surely they dont expect to shoot Germany out of the stadium now. But if things are not going according to plan it would be more frustrating than 2 weeks ago. Moreover they have chosen not to go the far easier way playing China in the quarters and France in the semis which might as we know now have already meant a medal. They have already climbed massive moutains and still arent there yet. It remains to see how that takes effect.

Germanys players are at least having a realistic view of themselves. With the coach often critisized for a lack of that. At least they dug themselves out of a big hole by fighting down China without having played any quality football. That makes them an unusual and difficult opponent despite this particular selection of German players might be not quite the talented individually regarding their football skills compared to the others of the four remaining. But certainly they are the best regarding their physical training.

We would give all four remaining contenders roughly the same chances now with luck the decisive factor and managing the fatigue. The teams who had clearly the best fire power (namely USA and France) couldnt make their advantage count so neither of these are anywhere close. However one has to be Olympic Champion and the “experts” probably will afterwards try to explain with all sorts of reasons based on the football they played.

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Olympics Rio 2016 Quarter Finals

The next step

Does it all go according to plan? We asked in the preview. Mentioning it did very much so last year in the WC in Canada where USA, France and Germany only kicked out each other. But not on this memorable day. USA and France (the tournaments hottest favorites) out within hours. Instead Germany with the most convincing victory after a horrible group stage display. And drama after drama after such a low-drama WC. And also like expected the lower ranked teams are coming closer and are further closing in while the top teams are stagnating.

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Olympics Rio 2016 Quarter Final Preview

Closing in on the medals:

18.00: USA – Sweden
21.00: China – Germany
00.00: Canada – France
03.00: Brazil – Australia
(Times CET as always here)

Does it all go according to plan?
More interesting than the last group matches – due to the strange format- it will be for sure.
Overall key questions: We had close matches at the WC in Canada nearly every time at the ko-stage. But very few upsets. Nearly any match ended according to the rankings (exceptions where ranking places were close). And mostly even without overtime or penalties. Even the one single draw was “according” to the ranking between ranking neighbours ranked 2 and 3 Germany and France. So will USA, Germany and France go through again who only knocked out each other at the WC last year but none of them got close to (more…)

Center Backs (not only for Germany)

What to do to find them?

The German national team have been world number 2 since a few years. Even number 1 for a short time. Astongishingly since years you hear doubts over their center back nevertheless. And opponents try to eploit the problems regarding speed and moveability there.
It is a problem you do often find at center back. Players who have speed as one of their main advantages often are not so good in positioning themselves and anticipate the play of the opponents as a team and on an individual basis. Then there are players however like the classical type of back line player (more…)

Olympics Rio 2016 Day3

Headline: Strange format produces strange matches

However. It could have been worse.

Sweden needed a point to go through – China needed a point to stay 2nd. Out came – a 0:0.
But Canada needed to lose for a medal chance. They won.
Australia needed a 7:1 (or better) victory for a medal chance. They had a 6:0 in the 65th minute. But substituted like they were not interested.

Strange but interesting to see.
Not so much though the football on display. Numerous players of teams who were already through got a break understandably. Not many of the “fresh faces” could seize (more…)

Olympics Rio 2016 Day3 preview

Headline: Set up for the quarters

Fixtures day3

9/10.Aug. times CET

Gr. E
03.00: South Africa – Brazil
03.00: China – Sweden

Gr. F
21.00: Australia – Zimbabwe
21.00: Germany – Canada

Gr. G
00.00: Columbia – USA
00.00: NewZealand – France

And the staccato continues. In the next games medals are decided. Nearly. Or: Whoever wins the next game after this will be in the last 4. What of course makes it interesting to see who plays who.
And the other big feature is saving energy. In a bigger tournament with several days between the matches it does often backfire to rest some players when you are through because you interrupt your rhythm. That is something completely different with only 2 days of rest. As much players as possible should be rested there when you can. So USA, France, Brazil and Canada all should use every available player. But we will see.

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