Football

Knowing Brazil inside out

Germany tap on giant database put together by university students to gain upper hand on Selecao

That no European team have won any of the previous six World Cups in Latin America is not a daunting prospect for Germany, as they head into tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) semi-final against hosts Brazil, according to assistant coach Hansi Flick.

Three-time 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 over five-time winners Brazil on their home turf.

"We're very, very well-prepared and we're looking forward to playing Brazil," Flick said, when asked about how Germany planned to end 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 have not 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.

To get ready for South American teams, Flick said that Germany have benefited from a giant database, 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, are 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," said Flick (below).

"We've got this enormous database to draw upon and, together with our scouts, we're able to take a close look at our opponents and make our plans for the match.

"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.

ENTHUSIASTS

Former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann first began tapping the data accumulated by the students, most of whom are football 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 and head of 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 they react when fouled, what gets under their skins and how they sprint for the ball.

The intelligence has come into special focus for the World Cup in Brazil, in part because Germany have never won here on the continent with their three World Cup titles won in Switzerland (1954), West Germany (1974) and Italy (1990). - Reuters.

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