Saturday, July 10, 2010

Uruguay-Germany Preview: Motivation May Trump Talent

The key to this game, like most 3rd place games, is motivation, as by nature the consolation game is anticlimactic for any team that just a few days ago knew that they were 90 minutes from the final and 180 minutes from being world champions. Germany have been to the semifinals 12 times in the last 15 world cups, so this may be a bit of old hat for them and I'm not sure how much they will be up for it. Uruguay on the other hand seem to be really motivated to finish 3rd. After the loss to Netherlands, when asked whether this World Cup has been a success for Uruguay, their coach said something to the effect of* "it depends on the 3rd place game. For us, there is a big difference between 3rd or 4th." As such, don't be surprised if Uruguay seem to want it a little more and play with a bith more intensity, while perhaps Germany will struggle a bit to mentally get themselves out of going through the motions to playing with pride and intensity. After all, 3rd place in the World Cup for Germany, 3 time winners, 4 times runners-up, and 12 time semifinalists, isn't as big a deal to them as it would be for Uruguay (winners in 1930 and 1950, and semifinalists in 1970, but since then they have not done much of anything).

Motivation aside, this is a great match to watch, as each team returns to full strength after really struggling with the absence of a key offensive weapon in their respective semifinal losses. Luis Suarez returns for Uruguay, which fully restores them to a two-headed monster up front, while Thomas Muller returns for Germany. While not as noticed as Suarez for his importance to the team, Muller had a hand in more than half of Germany's record high goals in this World Cup, scoring or assisting on 7 of their 13 goals.

Tactically this is also a great matchup, as Uruguay are a solid defensive team who are well organized and difficult to break down, and their primary objective is to keep a clean sheet by using their defense & midfield to stifle their opponents, then relying on superscorers Forlan & Suarez to get them goals- these two have scored all but two of Uruguay's goals at this World Cup. Germany on the other hand like to play offensive attacking soccer, either outright or on the counterattack, so this has the potential to be a wonderful spectacle for the neutrals, especially if an early goal or two opens up the game.

On paper, I think Germany's offense with Muller back would be too much for even Uruguay's defense, and they would be the pick to win. If you're more into intangibles, I think this game means much more to Uruguay and they will play with more intensity than Germany, who may have a hard time getting out of going through the motions mode.

For that reason, there is no pick, as it is too close to call. Rather, I'll just try to enjoy what could be a great game to watch**.

*as I am off the grid and don't have the ability to google the quote I saw last week an get it exact, I am paraphrasing here.

**I will be enjoying this match in a week when I return home and catch a replay, so there will not be any instant analysis match report today.

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