The second issue of The Blizzard starts with an article about the French national team of 1998 and it roots in the youth academy of Clairefontaine. The story told, could be the story of all successful national teams in the 21st century. The french team was formed after the youth system installed in France in the 70s finally was successful. The dominant Spanish national team of 2010/2012 had its source in the excellent youth development of La Masia, the academy of Barcelona. Finally the world cup winning squad of Germany in 2014 had its roots in the transformed youth program of the German Soccer Federation after the devastating EM2000 performance.
The french success waned pretty quickly and the reason for it, as it is described in the article, was the mercenary mentality and the bad characters the kids developed being pampered and raised far away from home. Interestingly, the players of Barcelona, coming from all over the world, usually develop a strong connection to the club and the more decentralized system in Germany might not lead to the same problems as in France. Therefore it will be interesting to see whether these nations can sustain the success or if they will decline, too, when the golden generation is gone.
Connected with the long-term success of teams is also the article about Arsene Wenger, which asks the question if it is for the better when coaches have free reign and can fully work along their philosophy. For Arsenal, it seems, the best time was at the beginning of Wegner’s reign. He brought a new idea, how to play but had to compromise depending on the players available and the limited money for new hires. The longer he stayed, the more ideal his team was set up and the less successful it became. Can that also be observed in other teams with long-term coaches? One could argue that Barcelona had the same fate (and Guardiola just left early enough) but I would say they also suffered from the lack of attention to detail in the post-Guardiola time. It is said that Ferguson just left Manchester United to avoid seeing his system fail completely. A positive difference might be Klopp in Dortmund. He started with very vertical play and extremely fast counter-attacks, then had to change to more possession and short pass play with a technically strong triangle in the middle and now moves to system, where the actual playmakers come from the sideline inside. However, also his changes are triggered by the loss of players, the club cannot prevent so far. Who knows if he would be that creative with Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. But usually the star coaches are known for a certain type of game and one wonders if Mourinho, Ancelotti or van Gaal are able at all to develop teams for a period of 10 to 20 years or if they are successful, because they bring some fresh breeze into a club and therefore getting the best out of the players, they find there. But when the new style gets old they move on.
Another interesting topic of the second issue is Italian soccer. The world cup 1990 is reviewed from the view of a 16 year old Italian fan, but also some soccer history is described with an homage to the most famous Italian journalist Gianni Brera, who, so it is told, was the godfather of the defense first approach in Italy, because in his articles he ridiculed every coach trying to play attractive and pushed the ideal of the perfect game, which meant for him, avoiding any mistake, so that no goal could be scored.
The review of the Copa America is a great read, too. There is also a report about the rise like a phoenix of Borussia Dortmund in this issue, but it is not really focused. The development of team, the fights for survival in the background or the feelings of the fans, a focus on one of the three topics with some more depth would have been better, I think. A very detailed analysis of the rise of Dortmund focusing on the financial aspects and from a tactical point of view, can be found at spielverlagerung.de (all in German).
Tactics & Game philosophy: 1/3
Must read for: No One >> Fans of soccer tactics >> Soccer fans >> All readers