Left winger Best play is team play

2016-07-13 06:00
PHOTO:supplied  Headlines of ‘Bale vs   Ronaldo’ have been printed all over various media.

PHOTO:supplied Headlines of ‘Bale vs Ronaldo’ have been printed all over various media.

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THIS column will go to print after the Wales vs Portugal game, but whatever happened in that fixture, it has been predictably unsatisfactory to see headlines of “Bale vs Ronaldo­” printed all over various media.

Football is of course, a team sport and even though great teams require great individuals, it is the player that needs the team and not the other way round. The Wales team, whether they won or not last night are a perfect example of this.

Gareth Bale has been a proper squad member and has not asked for special treatment, even though he is a mega star at Real Madrid and he’s alongside players like Hal Robson- Kanu­, who was released by is 2nd division club and is currently without a team. The motto below the badge on the Welsh jersey is: Gorau Chwarae Cyd Chwarae, which translates as “Best Play is Team Play”, and their team has certainly embodied this motto, with 10 goals scored (before yesterday’s semi-final) and only four goals conceded in six matches.

They were labelled a “one man team” before the tournament but they have shaken off that label with some spirited team performances. Their defending has been full of commitment and their players have worked hard to get behind the ball and also block the shots on goal. They have also made the most interceptions in the tournament, which means that they are preventing teams from creating attacks against them.

Portugal have stuttered along without putting in a team performance. The focus is always on their star and Real Madrid teammate of Bale in Cristiano Ronaldo and as such they struggle when he is not on fire - then they look to Nani or Quaresma to do something for them. The emergence of Renato Sanches has been their saviour. The 18 year old has shown why Bayern Munich paid 35 million Euro for him. He is confident, demands the ball and has a rocket-like shot. Portugal must build a team that incorporates all these special talents if they are to become a consistently successful team.

Germany vs France is tonight. This pits the tournament’s meanest defence (Germany, one goal conceded) against the top scoring attack (France, 11 goals scored). The German mannschaft has always been renowned for its team ethic, work rate and determination. It still is but now they have added the special individual skills of players like Ozil, Khedira, Draxler, Kroos and Muller. These players all play within the team system and the team is stronger for it. Germany would have got a major jolt to the system with their penalty shoot-out win over Italy however and they won’t want to take it that far again.

The France team is also one that seems to have put the internal personality problems that have negatively affected their performance in recent tournaments. Manager Didier Deschamps was criticised for not selecting players like Benzema and Nasri but it seems to have unified the squad and the results are there to see. After their 5 - 2 demolition of Iceland they go into this semi-final with Giroud, Griezmann and Payet all on a goal scoring run of form.

Then it will be down to the final on Sunday. The managers will have prepared their teams meticulously: what to do on attack and defence, the set plays and the different systems they will use during the game. They will also rely on that “moment of magic” when a special player will do something special. Using his improvisation, he will break the game open in that moment. Let’s remember though, that it is the team that creates those moments. As the saying goes - “may the best team win”. Enjoy the football.

• Dan Haswell is an “A” licensed football coach and coaches at academy level. He is the technical director of Soccer Kids Academy in Pietermaritzburg.

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