A report on a World Cup being hailed as one of the greatest ever was written by Fifa’s Technical Study Group and now it’s set to be presented to all national associations, including the Football Association, in September. England’s manager, Roy Hodgson, will also have a copy.
With less that 10 games remaining before the winner will be announced, the Group’s verdict is based on a combination of coaches’ “audacious” tactics, an “unparalleled generation of attacking” talent, and intelligent preparation has helped make this year’s World Cup so special.
“This is my ninth World Cup and this is the best one in terms of quality of football and entertainment,’’ said Gérard Houllier of the TSG. “Some games are like basketball, end to end, like Germany and Ghana and USA versus Belgium. I was struck by coaches saying, ‘because we are here, let’s have a go, whatever happens’.”
He goes on, adding: “You know that after a World Cup, 15 coaches minimum leave their jobs, so it’s, ‘let’s have a go’. It’s the end of a four-year cycle or the results have not been good enough, so they are dismissed.”
“The record of goals is 171 at France 98; we are 154 with eight games to play and with an average of 2.75 goals per game, this record could be beaten. The football gets better each tournament. There’s been the recent contribution of Spanish football, with Barcelona and the national team, and that has passed on to a lot of teams, raising the tempo and quality, and this World Cup has taken it higher.”
“A lot of teams play with two strikers, sometimes three. Argentina played three up against Switzerland with Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín and Ezequiel Lavezzi. In Europe, they used to play with one lone striker and a line of three behind [like England did in Brazil; now usually they have two strikers.”
Agreement on the attacking verve came from Sunday Oliseh, another respected member of the TSG. “The group stage is about racking up points, trying to finish top,’’ said the former Nigeria captain who played in the World Cups of 1994 and 1998, “and you would have thought that in the second round teams might be more cautious, get compact and play off the errors of the other team but no no no. Everyone has come out blazing. Full-backs are coming into midfield, overlapping. In South Africa we saw the level better than 2006 and this is one is even better.”
The environment helps, the tournament staged in a football nation obsessed with attacking. “I ask myself is there this vibrancy because the World Cup is in Brazil?’’ said Houllier. “The South American teams have got an aggressive bite here which I don’t see when they travel away – teams like Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay, although with Uruguay maybe bite is not a good word to use!
“Chile are out of the competition but summarised practically everything that is needed: an audacious system, technique, good spirit, good energy, plus real desire to win.’’
Meanwhile, everyone admits that this tournament attracted plenty of female football fans. However, there’re concerns that apart from being the best World Cup ever, the championship might also appear to be the sexist one.
“At almost every level of football it seems that there is a sense of objectification of women,” The Telegraph writes. “Just last week Helena Costa, the first woman to lead a French professional men’s side, stepped down after she claimed she had been sidelined by male colleagues.”
Costa, also known as “Mourinho in a skirt” in Portugal, cited a “total lack of respect” as one of the reasons behind her resignation from second division Clermont Foot 63.
Speaking after her sudden escape, club president Claude Michy, said: “She’s a woman so it could be down to any number of things… it’s an astonishing, irrational and incomprehensible decision.”