Football: Jurgen Is Hero but He'll Cop a Burst Lippi

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), July 2, 2006 | Go to article overview

Football: Jurgen Is Hero but He'll Cop a Burst Lippi


Byline: PAUL HATLEY

I CAN'T wait for Tuesday night when two coaches I admire go head-to-head in Dortmund.

Italy's Marcello Lippi and Jurgen Klinsmann are at different stages in their managerial careers but both are born winners.

Yet I'm backing Lippi, who achieved so much at club level with Juventus, to edge it and reach the World Cup finals at the expense of the hosts.

There will be national mourning when the Germans finally exit but I hope it does not rebound on Klinsmann.

The former striker was slaughtered in the build-up to the tournament.

The German media and fans were not happy that Jurgen lives in California and only travels back for games.

They claimed he wasn't hands-on enough and couldn't bring the country success in this tournament.

All those critics are eating their words now. Klinsmann is sending out all the right signals that he is destined for a fine career in management.

Even if Germany get knocked out against Italy - and I think they will -their coach has been a success.

His team play fast attacking football and have been a pleasure to watch.

And despite his relative inexperience Klinsmann is bold and doesn't shy away from decision-making.

When they were a goal down to Argentina in the semi-final on Friday night he took off holding midfielder Bernd Schneider and replaced him with the more attack-minded David Odonker.

Odonker had the Argentinians twisting and turning with his dribbling skills and pace. The coach also introduced Tim Borowski who also caused problems for the South Americans' defence.

It was positive stuff from Klinsmann and I'm delighted it paid off.

He obviously decided if his side were going to crash out he wanted to leave the technical area with no regrets, knowing he'd gambled for victory.

In contrast, the Argentine's Jose Pekerman got his key decisions wrong.

He took off Hernan Crespo and Juan Riquelme when they would have been decent shouts to score in the penalty shoot-out.

I also thought his side failed to seize the initiative after they opened the scoring through Roberto Ayala by becoming too defensive.

So there's no doubt the host nation deserve to be in the last four and a thrilling tie is on the cards.

Italy played some free-flowing football against Ukraine and have a lot to thank Gianluca Zambrotta for.

Not only did he score the opening goal but he also cleared a shot off the line when the score was still 1-0.

Less than two minutes after that Lippi's side doubled their advantage through Luca Toni.

Zambrotta is a powerful defender and caught my eye when I played against him for Scotland in the qualifiers.

He gets up and down the line and it was hard to track back with him.

The Juventus defender is producing his best form and that appears to be happening for a few of the Italian players just at the right moment.

Toni has sometimes looked many things other than a 30-goal a season Serie A striker.

But his two goals might just spur him on. Fabio Cannavaro reads the game so well and between him and Gigi Buff on it's going to take an enormous effort to score against this side.

Lippi has organised his side superbly and I love watching him when the TV cameras zoom in on the technical area. …

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