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SPAIN'S fluid, inventive carpet soccer in the 1-0 World Cup semifinal win against the dour, defensive-minded Germany at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday night was a victory for football over anti-football.
This was the forthright view of Orlando Pirates development director Augusto Palacios, himself a member of the 1978 Peruvian World Cup squad. He said had Germany's stoic, unimaginative approach been successful it would have set the soccer world back into the dark ages of football for the next four years.
"It is the winners who set the trends," Palacios said, "and if Germany's approach, which concentrated almost totally on preventing goals instead of scoring them till they found themselves trailing, had brought success, we would have had everyone proclaiming that dour defending and sporadic counterattacks is the best way of playing the game."
Palacios compared Germany's tactics with two previous ultra-defensive strategies that could have caused untold damage to soccer had they succeeded - namely Italy's deathless and cynical ploy whereby 10 players formed two defensive walls in the 1994 World Cup Final against Brazil and again when an unimaginative Argentina employed brutal, negative tactics in the final against Germany in 1990.
"Fortunately on both occasions the exponents of anti-soccer ended up losing," Palacios said.
"Italy eventually lost in a penalty shootout against Brazil and Argentina were beaten as a result of a late German penalty.
"And it was a blessing too that the enterprising, attacking Spaniards were able to gain their deserved rewards in Durban."
He now hoped the much-anticipated World Cup Final at Soccer City on Sunday would be competed by two teams employing tactics in line with what the great Pele had labelled "The Beautiful Game".