Previous
Juventus
Malmo FF
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Olympiakos
Atletico Madrid
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Liverpool
Ludogorets Razgrad
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Madrid
FC Basel
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
AS Monaco
Bayer Leverkusen
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Benfica
Zenit St Petersburg
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Galatasaray
Anderlecht
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
AFC Bournemouth
Leeds United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sheffield Wednesday
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Blackpool
Watford
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Brentford
Norwich City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Cardiff City
Middlesbrough
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Charlton Athletic
Wolverhampton Wanderers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Huddersfield Town
Wigan Athletic
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Ipswich Town
Brighton & Hove Albion
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bolton Wanderers
Rotherham United
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Reading
Millwall
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Colchester United
Sheffield United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Doncaster Rovers
Crawley Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Gillingham
Peterborough United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Milton Keynes Dons
Bradford City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Notts County
Leyton Orient
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Port Vale
Bristol City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Preston North End
Chesterfield
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Rochdale
Walsall
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Scunthorpe United
Coventry City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Swindon Town
Oldham Athletic
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Yeovil Town
Crewe Alexandra
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
AFC Wimbledon
Burton Albion
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bury
Stevenage
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Cambridge United
Exeter City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Cheltenham Town
Southend United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Mansfield Town
Morecambe
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Northampton Town
Hartlepool United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Oxford United
Accrington Stanley
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Plymouth Argyle
Wycombe Wanderers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Portsmouth
Dagenham & Redbridge
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Shrewsbury Town
Carlisle United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Tranmere Rovers
Newport County
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
York City
Luton Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Aldershot Town
Braintree Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Alfreton Town
AFC Telford United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bristol Rovers
Nuneaton Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Chester City
Southport
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Dartford
Dover
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Eastleigh
Forest Green Rovers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Halifax
Grimsby Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Kidderminster Harriers
Altrincham
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Macclesfield Town
Gateshead
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Torquay United
Woking
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Welling
Lincoln City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Barnet
Wrexham
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rangers
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Waterhouse
DC United
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Cruz Azul
Chorrillo FC
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Portland Timbers
Olimpia
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Gimnasia La Plata
10:00 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
Cerro Porteño
10:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Deportivo Capiatá
Caracas F.C.
12:15 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Peñarol
Deportivo Cali
12:30 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Guadalajara
Tijuana
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Mérida
Atlante
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Puebla
Morelia
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Celaya
Necaxa
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Zacatepec
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Dorados de Sinaloa
Mineros de Zacatecas
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Monterrey
Santos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Toluca
UNAM
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
América Mineiro
Bragantino
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Avaí
Sampaio Correa-MA
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Goianiense
América RN
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Náutico
Joinville
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Paraná Clube
Ceará
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Portuguesa de Desportos
Boa MG
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
ABC
AA Ponte Preta
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Icasa
Vila Nova-GO
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Luverdense
Santa Cruz FC
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Oeste
CR Vasco da Gama
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Al Hilal
Al-Ain
5:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Amazulu
Postp
Game Details
Kaizer Chiefs
Maritzburg Utd
Postp
Game Details
Next

No recent activity

 Posted by Raphael Honigstein
Jun 14, 2014

Lahm tasked with changing Germany's mythology

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Every football country has its own mythology. Nostalgia for a specific team, player or era; an idea about how the game should be played. An ideal, even, in some places.

The interesting thing about German football is that its mythology seems to be constantly changing. The 1954 World Cup winners stood for togetherness, the notion of "eleven friends" on the pitch. Franz Beckenbauer's European champions of 1972 (and their slightly less impressive 1974 version) were much more individualistic, and they left a different legacy: in their wakes, German football was forever yearning for a similarly gifted sweeper who could guide the nation to the next title. Lothar Matthaus established the cult of the "leadership figure" in 1990. Recently, the supposed lessons of the past have become different yet again. There is now much talk about the national team needing defensive ability at the heart of midfield.

- Honigstein: Things clicking for Germany

Suddeutsche Zeitung recently wrote that "German teams have always done well if they were solid in the centre," pointing to 1990 and 1996, when Guido Buchwald (Stuttgart) and Dieter Eilts (Bremen) built a platform for trophy-winning campaigns with no-nonsense, tough-tackling performances, in what would later be called the "Claude Makelele role". Bastian Schweinsteiger was said to have publicly demanded the inclusion of exactly that type of player after Germany's embarrassing 4-4 draw in World Cup qualifiers versus Sweden (the Nationalmannschaft had been 4-0 up in Berlin).

"With a Bender [in the team], that would not have happened," Schweinsteiger reportedly exclaimed after the draw. Alas, Germany coach Joachim Low didn't play either of the Bender twins on that night in October 2012, and the two natural holding midfielders are sadly missing from the World Cup squad, too, due to injury.

It speaks volumes about the way German football and its players have developed over the last few years that classic destroyers have become so scarce. The last team that made it to the World Cup final, Rudi Voller's men in 2002, were a side that almost exclusively consisted of defensive midfielders. They played accordingly. The ensuing decade has been spent nurturing much more technical, creative players, but in the absence of tangible results, the time seems ripe for restitution.

Low's decision to field Philipp Lahm -- ironically his most defensively solid midfielder, despite having only one season of experience in the role under his belt -- is indicative of the counter-revolutionary mood that has seemingly gripped much of the nation, including the inhabitants of Campo Bahia in northern Brazil.

Philipp Lahm's new role as a defensive midfielder will be crucial to Germany's World Cup success.
Philipp Lahm's new role as a defensive midfielder will be crucial to Germany's World Cup success.

It should be said at this point that the Bayern Munich and Germany captain is of course much more than a destructive force. The 30-year-old has good passing range; he will act as a deep-lying playmaker, bringing rhythm and precision to the build-up play. But his biggest quality doesn't so much rest in his feet but higher up, above the neck.

Unlike Sami Khedira, his partner against Portugal on Monday; unlike his club-mate Schweinsteiger, whose place in the starting line-up he's taking; Lahm has a thoroughly developed sense of defensive positioning. For all the progress in the Low years, as far as playing football is concerned, Germany were never able to stand well. They last looked truly solid when Torsten Frings and Michael Ballack lined up in the middle at the World Cup 2006. It took both of them to interpret their role quite conservatively to get a limited Germany side to the semifinals; without the suspended Frings, Jurgen Klinsmann's team lost to Italy.

Low and his technical analysts believe that Germany won't be able to play their usual, expansive game in the oppressive climatic conditions of northern Brazil. They won't park the bus -- they don't have the players for it -- in Salvador, but there's an acceptance that they'll be without the ball for significant spells during the 90 minutes. There's no other way. When it's this hot and humid, winning it back quickly with high pressing is simply not an option. Cynics might say that the weather has at last forced Low to think more about a part of the game that he has been neglecting for eight years -- the defensive organisation of his central players. (The 54-year-old might counter that argument by stating that the imbalance wasn't so much caused by his system but the inability of his players to work through it properly. But that's not a valid excuse, given the time he's had to address this issue.)

So now Lahm will be tasked to establish order and stability in the defensive zone ahead of a back four of four centre-backs. It'll still be Low's Germany, but perhaps not as we know it. And Lahm, all 1.69m of him, will certainly cut a very different central figure than German teams have been used to. He fights his battles quietly and leads by example, not shouting. He's not a tall, elegant figure like Beckenbauer, nor a live wire like Matthias Sammer, nor a box-to-box type like Matthaus in 1990, nor a serial tackler like Eilts. No one like him has ever "led" a German team into a big tournament. After winning the Champions League with his hometown team Bayern last season, a win that destroyed all preconceptions and prejudices about Lahm's ability to guide a side to an international trophy, the time has come for him to change Germany's mythology.