Thursday, June 23, 2005
Klinsmann & Pekerman
Having come up with the brainwave of seeing the hosts in unfamiliar red, a confident Klinsmann only rarely betrayed any impatience with a questionner with the tightest of smiles. Yet his serene authority was as evident as that of Pekerman, despite the age gap.
Bastian Deisler, whose Klaus Allofs tribute - taking the form of hairstyle and facial hair - has coincided with his regaining, besides adding to, all the attributes that saw him hailed as a prodigy before a battle with depression almost derailed his career, stood out.
Klinsmann though reluctant to single out individuals, could hardly help it in this case, and after praising Deisler's formidable rhythm, continued: "When he plays like this I give the other players instructions simply to feed him!" In the absence of fellow midfielder Ballack, Deissler had two surges from deep that required smart saves from Argentina's Lux.
The coach, whose record so far bears comparison with the best of his managerial predecessors, characterised Germany's progress thus: "In five years they say we have not beaten a 'big' team, but I would remind you that in five year a 'big' team has not beaten us!
"We have a very young set of players, but they are witnessing their own development. had they won they would not have been conceited, but realistic.
"Unfortunately Argentina have a team that you can never be sure will not score, and we were not awake for their second goal. Inexperience requires time, but my boys still showed everyone we can perform without Ballack, who is their leader."
Pekerman's demeanour, on this occasion at least, could only be described as lugubrious. Still, his will to win shone through as he described the state of Argentina's preparations for FIFA World Cup 2006, for which they qualified first from CONMEBOL.
Nowhere near the player Klinsmann was in his day, this elegant tactician who has proved an inspired choice to lead a side of globetrotters, rather than give his own introductory precis of the game, launched straight into answering each enquiry politely.
He insisted that people should not be surprised by the progress of Mexico, of group B, as they are no flash in the pan.Of Germany he was equally respectful: "They have enough strong players for them not to miss Ballack, but we responded tonight. You saw my players show they are learning all the time.
"We have an important team, one that is a match for anyone," he added. "Our momentum pleases me. We are only going to get stronger and stronger and we are on the right track for next summer here."
Had questions in English been more welcome (those of us not gifted with more than one tongue were not to know whether our train of thought had already been articulated in Spanish or German, as official translations were left until afterwards), then the identity of opposing sem-finalists would have come higher up this list of priorities than comparisons with the draw between these teams back in February. But "danke schon" to the linguists anyway!
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