Germany 4 Sweden 4 World Cup qualifier: 16th October, 2012.


Commentator: Lasse Granqvist

What a beautiful thing this is. Everyone admires Germany, don’t they? And those who don’t are just being contrary for the sake of contrarianism. Here, on a run of eleven years without losing a World Cup qualifier in Berlin, Germany easily get 3-0 up at half time and then increase it to 4-0 in the second half so it wasn’t even a case of Germany being able to blame the half time break and them being knocked out of their stride by being able to think too much about things. Subsequently Sweden scored two in about a minute, the second one as a result of some near-post slackness from the mighty Manuel Neuer, and, all of a sudden, Sweden are two goals behind, with the momentum, and have 26 minutes plus injury-time to find another two goals.

I don’t know why teams insist on ‘turning off’ when they think a game is done because it only takes a second to score a goal, only takes a second to grab a game’s impetus and then that other team is back in your face. Once a team stops playing it can be desperately difficult to get the collective engine started again. Maybe it’s to do with wartime strategies? You know, when armies trying to take a hill would take three quarters or four fifths of it and then relax, thinking that the last part would come by itself…..oh, wait, they wouldn’t do that, they’d take the hill and only then would they relax.

I don’t truly understand why received wisdom dictates that a team is truly great when they phone it in for the last part of a game. I’d like to see a team hammer the other into the ground for the whole 90 minutes and only then take the applause. It’s like those sprinters in qualifying for finals who insist on ‘easing up’ before the finishing line. How much energy are they really saving from not going all out for the last 20 – 30 metres? Not much. It’s all about a ‘dick measuring’ contest between two or more blowhards who’ll meet in the final. Which makes it delicious if one of them gets taken on the finishing line and they lose their place in lane picks or even in the final itself.

Anyway this, I think, pastes Lasse Granqvist’s commentary onto some TV pictures (I’m guessing that Lasse’s words were for a radio broadcast of the game.). It starts from when the Swedish team begins its scoring in the second half but it is worth watching all the Germany goals too and how they slowly, calmly, take an opposing side to pieces. Granqvist isn’t greatly interested until the third goal goes in with 15 minutes to go.

I don’t speak Swedish but his whole excited tone, Lasse’s unfettered effervescence, translates to any language. That video misses out a Swedish chance on 85 minutes that could’ve given them the win (no, that wouldn’t have meant that they’d have got the same last minute chance that they did convert. It’s all moot.) but that horrible Tobias Sana miss is in this video below. This one essentially crunches down the full TV coverage of the game, interviews (even at 3-0 down at half time!) and gives us some subtitles in the English language. It seems to cut between the TV commentary and Lasse’s radio commentary, subtitling both.

All great fun but the talk about it being amazing and a miracle misses the essential trait that this nonsense happens more than people care to remember within football. So many times, a team gets ahead and, rather than keeping their boot on the other team’s throat and banishing all thoughts of a job already being done, they try to get too clever and too cute, changing teams around, ‘closing down’ the game and just asking for trouble. Football is to attack while thinking about defending and to defend while trying to then attack; it’s to score more, and to let in less, than your opponent. When teams stop attacking they’re making it easy for their opponents, allowing them to concentrate more on attack as we’re going to defend. In other words, rather than having to juggle to two concepts, the team behind is given a solid of being able to think only about attacking. It happens all the time; in any division; in any quality of football and it’ll continue to do so.

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