Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup 2010 Final Match Spain vs Netherlands Notes

Version 1, 6:28 AM 7/12/2010

I still have not watched the first half of the 2010 final between Spain and Netherlands, and I have watched the second half and the overtime only once. When I do some more watching of the game I will revise this blog-post and report the revision in this post.

Spain and the Netherlands both failed when the attacker was near the goal and had only the goalie to beat, or only the goalie and one defender to beat. The mistakes consisted of: shooting instead of cutting to the left or right with the ball (NED); dribbling straight ahead instead of cutting left or right (ESP); cutting to the right into a goalie or the defender when the proper course of action would have been to dribble straight ahead or shoot (ESP, NED, ESP).

In my previous blog-post I discussed how in the semifinal, Spain had an advantage over Germany derived from the Spanish dribbler moving towards the German defender, which gave the dribble the choice of cutting either to the left or to the right. Seems that my advice re this advantage was taken too literally. Repeatedly players dribbling the ball, unaccountably and strangely, dribbled the ball towards the goalie or defender when they should have shot the ball or cut away from the goalie or defender and then shot the ball.

Although advantage can be derived by dribbling the ball towards the defender before making cutting left or right with the ball, such is not always the wise thing to do.
Generally, dribbling towards the defender before cutting this way or that, is a good choice for a dribbler when the dribbler is too far away from the goal to shoot, and the defender is in front of the dribbler. When the dribbler is close enough to the goal to shoot, and the defender it to the side of the dribbler as opposed to in front of the defender, dribbling towards the defender is less often the wise choice.

Repeatedly, shots were taken close to the goal, and were stopped by the goalie's feet with the goalie's body lying on the ground. This should not happen as it is not that difficult to loft the ball over the goalie's feet when the goalie is lying on the ground.

Three times Spaniards had the ball in a position where the smart thing to do would have been to cut to the left, fake a shot, and cut back to the right, or, cut to the right, fake a shot, and cut back to the left. This they did not do, result shot blocked, shot missed, ball lost etc. This dribbling on a slant faking a shot and cutting back is something even us Americans could do in high school.

Villa missed an easy shot near the Dutch goal, and Ramos missed a relatively easy header off a cross near the Dutch goal. Villa also tried to volley a long cross into the Dutch goal and missed badly.

Seems Villa like the rest of us has seen too many videos featuring the '100 greatest goals of all time' etc. One of these video clips featured an English player volleying a long cross into the goal, Villa apparently attempted to imitate the incredible shot.

When watching such videos, we should stop and realize that just as in music in America there have been these musical artists known as 'one hit wonders', who produced one great song and nothing else of note, so also, many of these 'greatest goals of all time', were freaks involving players doing something that they were able to do only once in their entire careers. I don't see it as wise to imitate such freak events. It would be smarter to imitate 'great goals', of the type that players have been able to accomplish repeatedly.

We've often read of how persons have been just once in their lives filled with superhuman strength and done things like lift a car off of an accident victim beneath the car--we should not forget that these heroic persons were able to achieve superhuman strength only once in their entire lives.

Simply from timing the speed of my shots with a stopwatch, I've noticed that about one in a hundred shots accidentally features very high speed with little effort, due to that rare combination accidentally coming together featuring the ball the body the foot all in exactly the right positions.

Apparently again watching the FIFA 2010 Finals, we witnessed the phenomenon wherein due to concentration on more difficult skills, the basic easy skills acquired early in youth become rusty, decline in terms of competence-level. Again we saw how the basic underemphasized strategic wisdom, is to in practice spend neither too much or too little time working on a given skill.

Twice I saw Spaniards making a mistake which I had noted in a previous blog-post re the 2010 World Cup: failing to anticipate defensive movements that were predictable. As a result, their passes were intercepted.

Both Spanish and Dutch players manifested a certain level of a lack of competence with bouncing balls. In one instance, a Dutchman got a bouncer near the goal, with time and without a Spaniard near him, but he was too clumsy and slow controlling the bouncer. A bouncer came to a Spaniard after the ball bounced off the Dutch goalie after the Dutch goalie fisted the ball away; the Spaniard had plenty of time and space to start something tricky like an aerial dribble towards the Dutch goal, but he just shot the bouncer and the shot did not even come close to scoring.

I napped through the entire game, not watching it, until about five minutes before the winning goal in the 116th minute, which occurred about five minutes after I started watching the game, which was after the Red Card evicted Heitinga of the Netherlands.

I wonder, was it coincidence that the one goal of the game was not scored until five minutes after I started watching the game about 110 minutes after the game started? Was is it coincidence, that the winning goal was similar to the first shot I took in front of the scoffer the Spanish/Guatemalan gentleman named 'Biro' (in front of Biro, I shot a bouncer into the right side of the goal from the left of the goal with my left from about 20 yards out, see June 30 entry of my soccer log).

Was it a coincidence that the referee of the match was Howard Webb, who looked almost like a twin of my uncle when my uncle was a young man? Was it a coincidence, that while I was sleeping prior to starting to watch the match after the match was already in overtime, I dreamt that the day of the match was my father's birthday even though actually it was not my father's birthday?

@2010 David Virgil Hobbs

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

WC 2010 Semifinals Notes

I watched most of the Netherlands vs Uruguay and Spain vs Germany matches (the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup), and took some notes. I did not watch either match twice.

Overall I was mystified at how the media announcers failed to mention things regarding the events during the games which I felt were relatively speaking important.

The media announcers manifested a prejudice in the direction of praising the players as opposed to criticizing them. For example for a few minutes they were claiming that a Netherlands goal involving a Uruguay player deflecting the ball into his own goal, was actually skillfully deflected into the Uruguay goal by a Netherlands players. This kind of sycophantic prejudice may make sense from the business point of view (convincing the audience they are watching great athletes), but it is a potential pitfall for players and coaches.

Uruguay vs Netherlands:

Both teams were repeatedly offsides on plays involving a pass recipient running towards the goal.

Both teams scored on similar goals.

Forlan cut to his left, and fired a long distance shot with his left foot. Bronckhorst cut to his left, and fired a long distance shot with his left foot.

Both these goals took advantage of the long range with the Jabulani ball. Both shots were done with the same style, crouched hunchback multi-step approach to ball, body rising up as ball shot.

A few days ago I had commented regarding taking advantage of the Jabulani's longer range.

Also I mentioned earlier that England suffered from a fear of using the left foot. I was talking about right-footed persons not using their left-foot, whereas Bronckhorst is left-footed, but the point remains, that left-footed approaches had been neglected previously. The right footed Forlan scored his big shot with his left foot.

It was surprising how the goalies were getting only one hand on the shot balls. Perhaps this is because of players obscuring visibility and thus delaying reaction times. The computer program I wrote that I am using to estimate if a practice shot would have been a goal assumes that if the goalie gets to the ball the shot will not be a goal. Seeing how the goalies have been getting to the ball with only one hand, it appears that often when the goalie is able to reach the ball the shot will be a goal or a rebound leading to a goal anyway. I read somewhere that most of the goals in soccer are off rebounds.

Seemed to me that shots that the laws of physics would declare to be failed shots blocked by the goalie, were going in anyway.

Spain vs Germany

At least throughout the first half, Spain kept the ball in the German half the clear majority of the time.

Spain was aggressive on defense, rushing up to the German player who had the ball and challenging him, Germany was different, laying back and giving the Spanish players time. This was an indirect effect of the Spanish dribbling skills, which Germany had to respect.

The Spanish players when they had the ball, would initially face the defender and move at the defender, in this they very closely resembled the individual style of dribbling I have developed for myself, a style that is not consciously based on imitation of Spaniards. Moving directly at the defender freezes the defender, and opens up both the cut to the defender's left possibility and also the cut to the defender's right possibility.

Germany more resembled the style in which if one has the ball and the defender is to one's left, one scurries to one's right; and if one has the ball and the defender is to one's right, one scampers off to one's left. The disadvantage with this latter style is that one is left with only one directional alternative, which leaves one usually attempting to rectify the situation with last minute feints this way or that which are off balance and ignored by the defenders, movement in one direction being obviously more amenable to circumstance than movement in another direction.

My style of dribbling and apparently that of the Spaniards also, is to naturally open up more than one directional alternative by moving at the defender, and then at the last minute choosing which direction to cut, all the while ignoring feints (recently I've been developing individual set plays involving pre-decided feints, but such is a new thing with me, without this new thing I've already developed the ability to dribble by defenders).

The Spanish showed tricky dribbling involving kicking the ball to the left with the right foot when the right foot is behind the left foot, and the reverse of this. There was a great example of this 18 minutes into the game, when an aerial line drive pass sailed at a Spanish player and the Spaniard with his trailing right foot (best I could tell), deflected it to his left right to a team-mate.

@2010 David Virgil Hobbs

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Soccer long range shooting tactical lessons of 2010 World Cup

The outstanding events of the Netherlands vs Uruguay contest, were the goals by Bronckhorst for the Netherlands, and Forlan for Uruguay. These goals resembled each other they were almost like twins.

That the soccer world is in a state of confusion is evinced by: the conflicting reports re the distance of the shots, how far they traveled from shot-point to target; the lack of attention to detail in terms of exactly how the shot distance is measured (shot-point to middle goal-line or shot-point to goalie?); and, the lack of attention to whether the kmh reports for the speed of the shots reflected the average speed in flight or the max speed during flight.

Best I can determine looking at the conflicting reports and the low quality (given the equipment I am using) video clips on the internet, the distance from shot-point to goalie on the Bronckhorst shot was 33 meters, and the distance from shot-point to goalie on the Forlan shot was 21 meters.

There are several reports that the Bronckhorst shot was 68 mph, and a couple of reports state that the Forlan shot was at 45 mph. I believe these speeds refer (for a change) to average speed of ball in flight not max speed of ball in flight; if these figures were for max speed of ball in flight, one would never expect the shots to have managed to result in goals.

I estimate the Forlan shot at 45 mph average speed and 64 mph top speed in flight, traveling in the air for 1.11 seconds during flight.

I estimate the Bronckhorst shot as at 68 mph average speed, and as at 109 mph in terms of max speed during flight, traveling in the air for 1.12 seconds during flight.

The Bronckhorst shot then seems to have been right on the borderline in the sense that if it had been faster it would have been impossible for the goalie to stop. Seems the goalie hesitated for an unusually long amount of time before leaping towards the ball, which makes the goalie's achievement in getting as close as he did to the ball with his hand, notable.

The Bronckhorst shot was spinning in a motion somewhere between a backspin and a spin to the left. Bronkhorst shot the ball at about a 20 degrees right angle relative to the ball movement before the shot, with the front inside of his left foot.

Judging from the spin on Bronckhorst's shot, I estimate that from the goalie's point of view, the ball swerved to the goalie's right as it came at that goalie, and swerved upwards compared to a ball without swerve. The ball ended up above the goalie's hand and from the goalie's perspective to the left of the goalie's hand. seems the goalie was fooled by the backspin on the ball sending the ball upwards, and that the goalie from a horizontal perspective overcompensated for the swerve on the ball which sent the ball on a curve towards the goalie.

The Bronckhorst shot appears to have been a case of a team and a player being aware of exactly how much range their shooting had given the power of their shots and the peculiar characteristics of the Jabulani ball (lighter and with less seems than previous World Cup ball); it was shot from the maximum of this range. The Bronckhorst shot appears to have been a very skillful achievement combining tactical wisdom, power of shot, and good aim. It reminds me of the earlier long shot by Oscar Perez of Argentina, which similarly appears to have been shot from maximum range and placed accurately.

In the Forlan case, from the goalie's perspective the ball passed slightly to the left of the goalie's outstretched hand and so was not stopped from entering the net. In this case it appears the goalie undercompensated for the (from the goalie's perspective) swerve of the ball to the goalie's left , which was caused in part by the ball spinning to the right (from the shooter's perspective). The goalie positioned himself initially directly in the path of where the ball would have gone had it not swerved to the goalie's left; the goalie was then caught off guard to the point of being able to get only one hand in the direction of the swerving ball. Forlan's shot would not have been a goal absent the swerve on the ball which confused the goalie, given the speed of the shot, the distance between the shot-point and the goal, and the distance between the goalie's position at shot-time and the position of the ball as it crossed the goal-line.

All this reminds me that the computer program I wrote which estimates whether a practice shot would have been stoppable by a goalie, does not take into account confusion caused by swerve and has so far been used only with a replica of the 2006 World Cup ball, not with the replica of the 2010 Jabulani ball.

There is alot of talk about the 2010 Jabulani moving in ways that deviate from the straight line; I've found that my shots with the replica of the 2006 World Cup ball from about 20 meters produce swerves of up to four feet left or right.

A tactical lesson here appears to be: a player's maximum range is the distance from which a well-placed shot of his would be unstoppable by a goalie; players should figure out what their maximum range in terms of shooting is; players should fire shots from this maximum range; an advantage of long range shots is that the longer the shot, the greater the swerve on the ball.

@2010 David Virgil Hobbs

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