SANTO ANDRE Brazil (Reuters) - That no European team has won any of the previous six World Cups in Latin America is not a daunting prospect for Germany as they head into Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final against hosts Brazil, according to assistant coach Hansi Flick.
Three-times World Cup winners Germany are confident that two years of meticulous university research combined with their own scouting and preparations for the conditions will give them an edge against five-times winners Brazil on their home turf.
“We’re very, very well-prepared and we’re looking forward to playing Brazil,” Flick told reporters when asked about how Germany planned to ended the dominance of Latin American teams when playing in their own region.
“We’ve been working on this project for the last two years and our entire system has been built up for that.”
Germany are undefeated in Brazil but haven’t had to face a Latin American team yet: their four wins were against Portugal, the United States, Algeria and France with a draw against Ghana.
Major European rivals such as Spain, Italy and England have already been beaten or knocked out by South American teams.
Flick said to get ready for South American teams Germany have benefited from a giant data base put together by a team of about 50 students at Cologne’s sport university over the last two years.
That information, combined with scouting reports, has been used for detailed analyses of Brazil and their players.
“The sports students in Cologne have been studying in great detail our opponent and put every play they’ve run, every newspaper article on them, and everything about them out there under the microscope and made all that data available to us,” Flick said at Germany’s base camp on the Atlantic coast in Northeastern Brazil.
“We’ve got this enormous data base to draw upon and, together with our scouts, we’re able to take a close look at our opponent and make our plans for the match. It’s a project we’ve been working on intensively for the last two years. We’ve been able to cull some very high quality information from all the data from the students. It’s very much helped us prepare.”
Germany have been turning to the student researchers at the Deutsche Sporthochschule Koeln increasingly over the last decade. Former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann first began tapping the data accumulated by the students, most of whom are soccer enthusiasts and thrilled to be working on a project that could possibly help, even in a small way, to win the World Cup.
While the students are sworn to secrecy about their intelligence gathering, their Professor Juergen Buschmann headed the project has been quoted in German newspapers saying the students use an eclectic variety of sources to chronicle such things as how players react in pressure situations, what are their preferred routes, how do they react when fouled, what gets under skin and how do they sprint for the ball?
He said the one trend that he was at liberty to reveal was that top teams change their tactics frequently but provided no further details - not surprising but tantalizing nevertheless.
The intelligence has come into special focus for the World Cup in Brazil in part because Germany has never won here on the continent with their three World Cup titles won in Switzerland (1954), West Germany (1974) and Italy (1990).
Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum, Editing by Nigel Hunt