A spectacular wheelie works on a bike only if the back tyre doesn’t deflate and slump down. Germany – bursting with attacking options and blessed with serious talent up front – left their defence pitifully unguarded on Tuesday, and Iran pounced on these glaring errors to score a sensational 4-0 win over the fancied Europeans.
Abbas Chamanian, Iran coach, is guarded with what he lets on of tactics, but even he couldn’t stop himself from blurting out that the German U 17 defence allowed a steamroll by the hungry Iranians at Fatorda. “We knew Germany had problems in their defence. We dedicated two important sessions in the last two days to first controlling Germany’s attack, and secondly utilising Germany’s weakness,” he elaborated.
It was Allahyar Sayyad and Younes Delfi however – the two have been playing together for two years and can second-guess each other’s sentences, let alone moves on the field – who nailed the massive pothole in Germany’s road to making a mark in the U 17 World Cup. “Their defence lacks speed,” Sayyad said, as he ran like a storm and ran riot to complete the overpowering of the Germans.
Jann-Fiete Arp, the highly-rated teenager from Hamburg was rendered invisible by Iran’s quietly hardworking defence and denied by the solidity of goalkeeper Gholam Zadeh, as Iran continued their march in Goa – picking from where they left off in the Asian U 16s.
First they took away Germany’s right to play in white as the young Mannschaft took the field in khaki green, and then Iran stole the Germans’ red-hot scoring streak that they had carried through the European Championships scoring an average of 3 goals.
Iran were swamping the German backline, throwing them out of gear, with repeated forays – pinpointed diagonal crosses and combinations that linked with precision as the crowd bulged from 6,717 to 8,257 for Group C’s biggest match-up pitting Asian giants against the highly-rated Germans.
Iran have a bunch of lanky lads who might not need muscling through defences, but specialise in weaving and bobbing their way through by sheer dint of exceptional control achieved in even unbalanced situations. They were like white rubber bands snapping away at the Germans who tried to come out of their shells – looking threatening everytime they approached the goal.
What’s more, the Iranian forwards had a punch in their long-rangers which might not have always hit the back of the net, but did enough to put doubt in the ’keeper’s mind of an imminent threat from the far distance.
Iran struck early in the match – as quick as the sixth minute. Ali Satavi was running in from the left – the shot parried by Luca Plogmann, but Yunes Delfi was charging in from right and was at hand to slot the rebound just right of the goalkeeper.
The Esteghal Khuzestan forward doubled the lead before the break heading into the top right corner from a Sharifi kick earned from a Noah Awuku foul.
The Germans, fending off the bulging lead, didn’t look like they possessed all the pieces of the jigsaw, and their finishing against Costa Rica in the last game suddenly didn’t look like an aberration but a chronic problem of absolute lack of the last-mile connectivity.
Allahyar Sayyad plays upfront and runs up and down the pitch with energy, jumping high for headers and finishing some searing pacy runs that on the day left German shot-stopper Plogmann hugely vulnerable. Sayyad would get into the mix within five minutes of resumption, heading Delfi’s cross home as German shoulders slumped. Even the introduction of midfielder Elias Abouchabaka, with his deft little touches, didn’t yield more than half an attempt – easily swatted away by the solid Iranian custodian Zadeh.
Germany looked outplayed at that stage, when the wildly free-scoring attacking pair of substitutes – launched a fearless run. The tallest Iranian Saeid Karimi would charge forward, and pass it to Namdari who out-ran his fast-fading pursuers in the 75th minute for a spirit-killing 4-0 margin.
Looking for answers
“It’s hard to find words,” German coach Christian Wueck said, “and it was hard for my players to find the level they can play.” He was left grappling for answers to whether it was the heat, his team’s complacency or just Iranian brilliance.
A bulk of the problem lay with his back-line which hardly ever looked like it could keep shape or be of any aid to Plogmann. “It’ll be very difficult to recover from this against Guinea,” the German coach would say, not quite looking forward to the Kochi match.
Chamanian’s gameplan had started the moment he saw Germany’s gaping holes in the game against Costa Rica – the first and lasting impression of the German teenagers. Like against Guinea, the Iranians had mastered the use of space between defenders – working the geometric angles, but also had the accurate game to execute those plans. Delfi, the lynchpin, had the pace in his attacking runs, and like Sayyad said, “lots of hunger to score.”
Iran’s biggest ploy this World Cup has been in downplaying Mohammad Sharifi – their star, and ensuring that the whole of the team is talked up.
The final word goes to Chamanian.
“When we saw the Germans play, we knew if we could execute a basic plan without any errors then we had a chance,” he said. They had several chances in the end, as the Germans crumbled like a crusty pie as Iranian oozed out for a flavoursome four goals.