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Chile in Germany's way





Four years ago in international football, the Spanish national team were the toast of the world and the barometre against which football teams were supposed to be measured.

Four years before that they had won the European Championship, following it up two years later by winning the World Cup in South Africa. Another two years later they retained the European Championships. They seemed unstoppable. However, during their Fifa World Cup defence they got torn apart, departing the tournament in the group stages.

The team that dethroned Spain, Germany, are slowly trying to become the new barometre against which international football teams measure themselves. I was never a fan of the style of football Spain played when they won the World Cup and the European Championships after – I preferred the style that Luis Aragones used when Spain first won the Euros in 2008.

The tiki-taka style of passing and passing and passing some more was incredibly boring to me. It is football and I have never made any apologies for not liking that style, however, they were hugely successful with it and in the grand scheme of things, that is what counts.

At this year’s Fifa Confederations Cup 2017, this young German side have played their own brand of football that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

Great credit must go to the manager, Joachim Loew, as he was able leave Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Matt Hummels, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Toni Kroos at home so as to give a new crop of players the chance to participate in a proper tournament. How they have taken the chance!

The striker Tim Werner – he of the astonishing pace on the shoulder of the last defender, Leon Gorekzka – the slayer of Mexico in the semis – and Lars Stindl have eight goals between them. Captained by the youngest German captain since before the second World War, PSG’s Julian Draxler, this team displays no fear.

They play on the front foot and usually by the third pass they are looking forward. The players are so technically accomplished on the ball, but what is so eye-opening is how tactically aware they are during matches.

Before the start of the tournament I tipped Chile to win it. This side is hugely experienced and have actually been together from the various youth sides up to now.

Gary Medel, Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas are the star names and they have not disappointed in this tournament. Chile’s biggest problem is goals in the big matches. Their back to back Copa America wins have been on penalties following goalless finals.

When both sides met in the final group match the South American champions dominated the early stages of the first half, took a deserved lead, pressed and harried the young Germans into mistakes. However, as the half wore on the Germans adjusted brilliantly to the game, carved out a glorious equaliser and settled for a comfortable draw in the end.

It will be a very good game as both sides play on the front foot. They keep or attempt to keep possession but they do not hug the ball as a defensive ploy.

Germany will require Skodran Mustafi and Antonio Rudiger to be at their highest concentration levels because of the movements of brilliance that Sanchez and Vargas can conjure. How those battles turn out will determine who carries off the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup.

It has been a good, open, attacking tournament in the main. I know the Video Assisted Referee (VAR) system is on trial at the tournament, so naturally there will be teething problems. I am not a big fan of it. Scratch that. I am not a fan of it at all.

I am for technology to determine balls over the line or if the foul was in the box or outside the box; the other things that have been referred to the VAR are just not for me. It ruins the game.

One of the great things that make football so universally appealing and easy to take up by children in the richest and poorest parts of the world is the simplicity of the game. VAR will take away that simplicity.

Hugo Broos, the coach of African Champions Cameroon, will probably have learnt that he needs to get back some of his experienced campaigners if the Indomitable Lions are to return to Russia this time next year for the World Cup.

There were good individual performances, especially the keeper Fabrice Ondoa, who saved his country from humiliation in all the matches. As a team they did not improve the image of African football.


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