Germany have students doing World Cup analysis

German Football
By German Football June 5, 2010 06:34

Germany have students doing World Cup analysis

Notes scribbled on a piece of paper and stuffed behind his shin pads helped goalkeeper Jens Lehmann become the hero when Germany beat Argentina on penalties at the quarter-finals of the last World Cup.

‘Our notes,’ says sports scientist Juergen Buschmann from the German Sport University in Cologne.

Leading up to the 2006 tournament, Buschmann’s students had been looking closely at Argentina’s matches, minutely breaking down, analysing and categorising every scene.

From the mass of information the key data was relayed to the German football federation DFB, including the decisive information which eventually ended up in the hands of goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke – and down Lehmann’s socks.

‘Ayala, wait long, long run-up, right.’ Lehmann waited to the last, then dived to the right and stopped the shot from Robert Ayala. And Germany were in the semi-finals.

Before that game, there was the last 16 match against Sweden.

‘Two days before the game the DFB phoned me up. They didn’t have any information on how Swedish striker Henrik Larsson liked to take penalties,’ Buschmann recalled.

‘We then looked at all the videos and found out that he waited to see what the keeper did before shooting. So we told the DFB that Lehmann should not move.’

In the 53rd minute, Sweden are awarded a penalty in Munich’s Allianz Arena. Larsson steps up to the spot, but Lehmann makes no move. Larsson shoots over the bar.

Buschmann, watching at home on television, clenches his fist in a victory gesture.

The sport university’s work is proof that when it comes to major football tournaments, Germany leave nothing to chance.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa will now be the third time the DFB has worked with Buschmann and his team, following 2006 and Euro 2008.

For months, 54 students, using laptops provided by the federation, have been monitoring the World Cup teams. They have been paying particular attention to Germany’s group opponents, Australia, Serbia and Ghana, and possible knock-out round opponents, but their analysis covers every World Cup team.

The data covers simple facts such as ball contact or the number of corners but goes much deeper to look at the ‘technical-tactical analysis of a team,’ says Buschmann.

How does a team build up play? Which players are most involved? How does the defence behave and how does it change when a team goes in front or behind? Who plays the longer defence-splitting passes? When do players get tired? All questions answered by the student researchers.

Kai Krueger calls up a match scene on his laptop. The student has a specially-developed computer programme to store match action and the information which goes with it. Coaches and players can call up the data as required.

‘For example I could note that when a certain player scratches his socks he takes a short corner. It’s like a code which I have cracked,’ he said.

However 24-year-old Krueger, whose job it is to look at Australia and Nigeria, cannot reveal all his secrets. That is something agreed contractually with the DFB.

Behind him, hanging on the wall of the office in the sport university, is a German national team shirt signed by all the players, a thank-you present following Euro 2008.

Krueger receives no money for his work but has a certificate from the DFB which, he says, ‘will look good on his cv.’

The sport students are providing the German team with a complete package which includes team, player and coach dossiers and descriptions of the country. It comes to around 300 pages per country along with several DVDs of match play. It’s then up to the team to use the information provided.

‘Of course, we cannot turn 11 carthorses into thoroughbreds, but when it comes to a semi-final against Italy then it’s this extra one or two per cent that could prove decisive,’ said Buschmann.

German Football
By German Football June 5, 2010 06:34
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