Subject: [R] Some impressions from Germany-Brasil
Date: 26 Mar 1998 03:39:00 -0700
From: (Ariel Mazzarelli)

Once again, we see that futbol is a cruel game. Germany did more or less
what they wanted to do against Brasil and lost 2-1. Brasil did nothing of
what they wanted to do except score more goals than their opponent.

For those that like to invent conspiracies, I suggest that they investigate
whether Romario was abducted by extraterrestrials for most of the game.
It is hard to find a better explanation for the fact that he did not show
up on the TV screen over stretches lasting around half an hour.

Jurgen Kohler demonstrated the German strategical tradition of accepting
a short term loss for a long term gain when he tried to cripple Cafu. A few 
minutes earlier, Kohler had unsuccessfully attempted to cleave Ronaldo's 
Achilles tendon and the referee had surprisingly let him go cardless. The TV
commentators seemed to think that Kohler had made a bad mistake, but I
kept thinking of those inexplicable German performances of the past
which had miraculously placed them in a stronger position than if they
had played up to their usual level (e.g. 8-3 defeat to Hungary in the
1954 WC in which they mauled Puskas and whomever else looked menacing,
1974 WC loss against East Germany which put West Germany in the joke
bracket and sent their gullible cross-curtain neighbors into the group
with Netherlands, Argentina and Brasil, 2-0 loss against Denmark in
1986 WC which led to the easiest available bracket whilst Denmark got
fisted by Espa~a). Now it is an old observation that a friendly match
a few weeks before the World Cup is an excellent opportunity to go
out and break a leg, and clearly the Germans were going to avail
themselves of the opportunity.

Berti Vogts was the master of stone-facedness after the game, pretending
to be angry at Kohler for his hasty red card. Go easy on the kid,
Berti, he'll learn!

Fortunately for Cafu, Kohler's ploy failed, and he had a good game.

Andy Moeller did not have a good game. As a matter of fact, he had such a
bad game that he would have probably preferred to be in the same
transporter room that kept beaming out Romario. I lost count of the
bad passes that Moeller made, but I estimate at least three excellent
attacking chances were wasted when Moeller reached the decisive 30 meters
with teammates on both wings and rather than shoot or give them the ball
Moeller rolled it harmlessly to a random brasuca. If the referee had
seen fit to grade Moeller's technique with the same critical eye that
he had for Dunga's, there would have been a third red card on the evening.

Which leads me to the second red card. Dunga. Dunga, Dunga, Dunga.
I should first comment on how the game had evolved. The germans were
spanking the brasucas around, and from min. 15 to 20 in the first half,
there were four very high probability chances that were wasted either
because the ball was kicked either where Taffarel could reach it or where
no one could ever ever reach it. Bierhoff in particular showed a generous 
attitude as he tried to donate several pelotas to the crowd. So as the 
brasucas were beginning to think of excuses and insults to share with each 
other, Koepke made an elementary mistake and gave up a needless corner kick.
Then the man marking Cesar Sampaio in the area, whose name escapes me,
was so keen on making sure that he would foul the brasuca by pushing
and grabbing the shirt and all the other technical refinements that
are permitted when an opponent is close to one's own goal, that when the
ball actually arrived Sampaio had absolutely no other thing to do than
to stand where he stood and let the ball fall on top of his head and
glide perfectly near the upper corner of the near post. The TV commentator
gushed forth about what a great goal it was, I suppose because of where
the ball went, but as I looked at the replay time and time again it
looked like Sampaio was a prisoner being dragged around by a bullying
guard and being forced to stand on the spot where the ball was going
to land. If that's a great goal, well, it is a Chaplinesque greatness.

Soon after that, the English referee grew weary of the German medical
lessons and ejected Kohler. The half came to an end with the brasucas
unable to control the game even though they had an extra player, but of
course they did not really have an extra player because Romario was
boozing it up with Captain Kirk for most of the half.

So in the second half the German wiliness is seen again. By now it was
clear that there would be trouble if any more knee exams were carried out,
and so the victimizers became the victims. Now, think hard: if you need
to score against the brasucas, and thus need the ball, and they have an
extra player, who ya gonna call?

Dunga, Dunga, Dunga.

During the first half, Dunga had made a point of letting the fine English
referee know that in the Dunga hierarchy, he did not deserve the whistle.
Dunga then proceeded to lash out at what was arguably the most likely
german red card recipient sans Kohler, and for that Dunga got a yellow card
and the german got the referee's sympathies for the remainder of the game.
But a mind like Dunga's is not satisfied with such a trifling creativity.

So when the second half was under way and the usual scheme in these
circumstances was scripted--brasucas hold the ball for 45 minutes, maybe
take a shot or two, and frustrate the europponent--genius spoke up. 
The referee knew it was hopeless as long as Brasil held the lead on 
goals and on players? No problem. Germans likely to open up further 
weaknesses as the game progresses if they cannot touch the ball?
We can fix that. To these questions and many others that us mere mortals
will never be able to pose properly, Dunga had the answer: come up from
behind Kirsten about 40 meters away from the goal on a fairly innocuous
play and make sure the referee hears you cursing as you fly in and land
on the opponent's hip.

A few minutes after that, Kirsten fought through Aldair's running
obstruction and toed a quick kill past Taffarel. A little gem.

The remainder of the game consisted of the Germans doing stuff so that
Moeller could piss it away, and Romario making a cameo appearance five
minutes before he was replaced by Bebeto. Then as the end drew near,
Moeller made yet another ridiculous pass, and this time Roberto Carlos
made him pay by dashing up the field, catching the defense completely
off-balance, and threading a perfect through ball for Ronaldo to run
onto and do his thing. Koepke had no chance and so the brasucas steal
a win without any serious injuries.

A special mention to Klinsmann, who played an inspired 45 minutes and
reminded us of his better days. He participated in the defense, in the
midfield, and in the attack, and gave Bierhoff at least two excellent
chances with some heady passing near the penalty area. This Klinsmann
for 90 minutes, and an on-form Hassler instead of Moeller as No. 10
can make this team click.