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Hitzfeld: France, trendsetters of 2018 World Cup

By Oliver Trust BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- France is the trendsetting team of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, said former Swiss national coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, who tipped the 1998 world champions to win the World Cup final against Croatia in Moscow on Sunday.

The 69-year-old former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich coach said the French style will influence future football and times of unlimited ball-possession as a successful system will be a story of the past.

For France, it’s not its first intention to dominate the game over 90 minutes but to play with a reliable and robust defense for fast counter attacks through an intense vertical game. The idea behind is to avoid counter attacks, said Hitzfeld.

According to Hitzfeld, the World Cup in Russia has proved that ball-possession football played by Spain and Germany is no longer the leading tactical system in football, saying “it was no great fun to watch Germany and Spain play football.”

Leading football nations will have to change their methods and implement more options, as opponents and smaller nations have adapted their game, and the percentage of ball possession is not inevitably leading to success, said the 1997 and 2001 Champions League winner.

France won the last-16 match against Argentina with only 40 percent of ball possession but scored four goals when beating the South American side by 4-3.

In order to succeed, teams must increase goal-orientated actions, and future football cries for more individuals who are able to break through robust defense chains with dribbling skills, said Hitzfeld.

Hitzfeld tipped Belgian Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and French Kylian Mbappe (Paris St Germain) the ideal type of attackers, but lamented that Germany lacked such a player.

“France does not leave much space to their opponent, but is able to switch and attack with high speed quickly,” Hitzfeld said, adding that teams relying on the so-called Tiki-Taka style can’t expect much space for attacks as the opponent has enough time to get organized.

Furthermore, RB Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick demanded a radical change in tactics, saying “it’s about time coaches and teams start to use speed and fast attacks as they are the strongest weapons in football.”

Rangnick said that teams, mainly counting on the old fashioned ball possession, “got punished” at the 2018 World Cup.

“They tried to gain as much ball possession as possible and suddenly recognized the game is over; they missed to score a goal. Without getting behind the opponents’ defense, without being able to change to sixth or seventh gear, you don’t get anywhere today.”

According to Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness, modern teams have to be highly flexible and play with kinds of tactical patterns.

“When needed they use a long ball and try to get things done with crowbar types of players. Future football needs a spearhead in the box. No successful team can act without a central attacker,” Hoeness talked about France.

“You need a fixed point to create a frame for your game,” said former Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes, the 2013 treble winner, citing Olivier Giroud (France), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) and Mario Mandzukic (Croatia) as examples.


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