The world is still recovering from the news that Germany, the previous winner of the 2014 World Cup, has been ousted from the tournament after a tremendous upset against South Korea. In all of the post-match chatter surrounding the German’s apparently-unexpected loss, however, not enough credit is being given to the South Korean team that took down the world champs by following an often-shunned strategy.
Here’s Germany’s blatant focus on offense ended up costing it a shot at the 2018 World Cup, and why the country’s loss to South Korea will be repeated in the future if it doesn’t clean up its game.
We’re too preoccupied with offense
Look, it makes sense that we’re hyper-occupied with the role of offensive plays during the World Cup. After all, if Germany had pulled off a win over South Korea it would have advanced to the knockout round with some serious momentum behind it. Despite the obvious importance of scoring enough to remain a viable contender in the global tournament, however, we’ve grown to become far too preoccupied with the role of offensive plays.
Let’s take a look at a statistical breakdown to clearly illustrate why Germany’s loss shouldn’t be surprising. Normally, it would be assumed that Germany held a significant leading edge in the matchup because of the way they deftly-bombarded South Korean goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-Woo with a nonstop barrage of shots. Germany outshot South Korea 26-11, according to the statistics gurus at Fivethirtyeight, holding possession of the ball for an astonishing 70 percent of the match.
Those same statistics are actually the reason we saw Germanys’ unexpected downfall, however; the Germans were simply too preoccupied with running a blitz against the South Koreans, and let their own defensive guard down the few times they allowed their competitors to get ahold of the ball. Even world-star professionals can’t leave their net open the way that Germany did if they truly expect to remain a viable contender in one of the most bitterly contested tournaments in world history.
While some will continue to defend Germany with cheap claims that the country’s team merely suffered from the famous World Cup curse, it’s a simple matter of fact that a concerted defensive effort would likely see the Germans still in the tournament. The defending champ should know better than most that a failure to shore up its greatest weaknesses would inevitably lead to the deft exploitation of those weaknesses by the savvy Korean team.
Better luck next time
If German fans want to avoid another heart-breaking disappointment when the next World Cup rolls around, a greater emphasis should be placed on the team’s defensive strategy and the tradition company of a defensive lineup. Far too often, even the best footballers get lost in overly-complex offensive strategies that rely on the other team cracking under pressure to succeed and not having done enough fitness classes. If more attention isn’t paid to the home front, where failing to defend the net can cost you despite your tremendous offensive advantage, then German’s should expect more dismal failures in the near-future.
To see Germany fail to advance past the first round of the World Cup for the first time since 1938 was truly shocking to some, but these kinds of tremendous upsets are less surprising to those who have come to realize that a fixation of offense can cost even the best of teams the game. The impressive offensive pressure displayed by the Germans simply wasn’t enough to take home the trophy – if future World Cup attendees want to avoid suffering from similar upsets, they need to keep a closer eye on their own goals, and devote more time to defending their home turf.