World Cup: Germany’s first goal vs Brazil

It was likely the most shocking result of the modern game. 7-1. Germany over Brazil in a World Cup semi-final in Brazil. Master handicapper Nate Silver pegged the result as being 1 in 4000. That seems almost conservative.

The first goal fascinated me. Set pieces are one of the few aspects of the game that can be analyzed in a similar manner to episodic sports like baseball, football and volleyball. These sports have many, repeated actions from very similar setups whereas soccer’s fluidity precludes the easy comparisons that analysts can look for in more static, predictable sports.

Set pieces though give soccer that element of being able to set up specific patterns in attack and in defence. This corner is a great example of Germany doing their homework on how Brazil defended corners and manipulating that setup to essentially pick David Luiz so that Thomas Muller had acres of space in the back half of the penalty box.

I’ve done a (humorous) annotated video on YouTube that highlights the issues. Essentially, Brazil only mark the near space zonally (with Maicon and Fred), leaving Marcelo on the line at the far post. The rest mark man to man (curiously leaving Ozil unmarked at the top of the box though).

Here’s the video:

Howedes starts it off cycling in towards Luiz, where Klose has already fronted on to him obstructing Luiz’s path to Muller who has followed in behind to Howedes to the middle of the goal. Luiz has to fight his way through traffic but the timing of the runs ensures the ball reaches Muller before Luiz can do anything. He looks ridiculous as he flails his way towards Muller, knowing all the while that he is not going to get there.

Muller is left with a relatively simple tap in as Ozil has deliberately stayed at the top of the box so as not to drag any defenders into the space intended for Muller.

It’s a fantastic bit of coaching by Low and his assistants. The amount of space left by Brazil is ridiculous and it’s why any time that doesn’t get the mix of zonal and man to man marking on a corner is doomed to get burned by smart teams that create traffic and/or picks to free up a player who can sit in the space created by jamming everyone else in a part of the box where the ball is not going to be delivered.

I’ve made it (hopefully) humorous but the point is serious. Goals get scored off set pieces. It’s an area that coaches can have a disproportionate influence on compared to open play. Get your marking right or you will get exposed.

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2 Responses to World Cup: Germany’s first goal vs Brazil

  1. cutleron says:

    Love it. The other key thing is that the corner is actually delivered to the intended spot.
    AND… AND that the keeper is not an athletic 25-year-old. I think Courtois or Cillessen or Dominguez, or heck even Lloris might have come for that and caught it comfortably at exactly the spot that Luiz occupies when Muller makes contact. When a team tries to overload the near post like this, the keeper should sense what’s going on and catch the ball before the target can get heat or boot to it.

  2. Gregor says:

    Good point re Cesar not coming for the corner. It hung up a fair bit and was only a yard or two outside his six.

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