Hurst has a point:
Beckham doesn't have the energy he once had. But that's like criticizing Bonds
for not being able to leg out doubles anymore. And Lennonesque athleticism
doesn't always win World Cup games. In Japan and Korea in 2002, 46% of goals
came from corners or free kicks-Beckham's specialties. Said England coach
Sven-Goran Eriksson after the Ecuador match, "I have stopped saying
anything to [ Beckham's] critics. He is maybe the best player in the world on
And that makes
England dangerous every time they take the pitch. No matter how slow or
predictable the team appears.
All you need to
know about the importance that Italy places on defense is that the country's
greatest contribution to the soccer lexicon is catenaccio (door-bolt), a
philosophy built on airtight D. Marcello Lippi's team pushes forward a little
more than Azzurri sides of the past, but there's no mistaking what has gotten
the Italians to the quarterfinals. In their first four matches they had allowed
only one goal-an own goal at that.
Australia had to
feel pretty good about its chances of breaking through on Monday when Italian
central defender Marco Materazzi was shown a red card in the 50th minute,
forcing Lippi to bring on seldom-used Andrea Barzgali. Not so fast. "They
defended better with 10 men than 11," said Aussie defender Scott
Chipperfield. And when Francesco Totti scored on a penalty with the game's
final kick, Italy had another of its famed 1-0 wins.
Italy has a handful
of world-class defenders-none better than captain Fabio Cannavaro (above), who
snuffed out several dangerous Australia attacks. But the system matters more.
Lippi has been shuffling players in and out of the back line all tournament
because of injuries. So it shouldn't trouble the Italians to be without the
suspended Materazzi in their quarterfinal match against Ukraine on Friday, nor
will they panic if the man he was filling in for, Alessandro Nesta, can't
return from his groin injury. "It's hard to pinpoint one particular thing
or player," says Aussie midfielder Brett Emerton. "I think organization
is the key-and they're very well organized."
On the list of
Things Germany Is Known for Producing, attacking football used to rank next to
world-class comedians. But that's all changed. J�rgen Klinsmann, hired as coach
after a dismal 2004 European championships, has instilled a simple
philosophy-go forth and score-that has turned Die Mannschaft into the most
explosive team at the World Cup.
Klinsmann, a star
German striker in the '90s, did more than change the squad's style. He changed
the squad. Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was stripped of his starting job and
captain's armband. Other vets were dropped altogether for younger, more
athletic players. For leadership Klinsmann turned to midfielders Michael
Ballack and Torsten Frings and striker Miroslav Klose, all in their late 20s.
"I told them, 'Grab that moment,'" says Klinsmann, 41. "The way
they've guided the younger players is tremendous."
partnership of Klose and 21-year-old Lukas Podolski (above) is a perfect
example of how Klinsmann has blended maturity and youth. At week's end the two
Polish-born forwards had scored seven of Germany's 10 goals. In a 2-0 victory
over Sweden, Klose twice set up Podolski, who bagged his second goal after
sending the ball to Klose and taking off on a 35-yard run. The final score
could have been much worse- Germany outshot the Swedes 26-5.