The World Cup has got off to a very frustrating start as teams remain extremely careful in the back and the games sterile. Other than a few exceptions, most matches have seen just one goal. There were no brave strategies for scoring goals and whichever side found the lucky first goal sat deep and relied on counterattacks. But the World Cup did not use to be this way - its chaotic nature produced exciting games with lots of opportunities and lots of goals. The paradigm shift occurred with the Barcelona revolution in 2009 and the rise of collectivism.
Collectivism took over European football with two prominent figures, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. The former introduced the neo-total football as a categorically collective game, focusing on the attacking strategies. Mourinho, on the other hand, was the face of the counterrevolution as he used collective defending to cripple Guardiola's collective attacking.
Mourinho's idea was simple but effective - defending requires less responsibility and commands little fear; so without losing time with sophisticated attacking strategies, we should focus on forcing the opponent to make simple mistakes.
Although Mourinho's strategy was greatly amended and improved by Diego Simeone and Jurgen Klopp in the club level, his main idea offered the best option for national team coaches who had limited time to come up with a strategy.
At the national level where realities are much different than expectations, coaches opted for the strategy that was the easiest and carried the least amount of risk. Considering that a national team coach gets to train his team for only a few days in four or five months, it is very unsurprising that they go for the simplest strategy rather than pursuing extravagant or brave tactics.
This shift, however, has made international competitions duller than they were in the last decade. It has become more obvious that individualism has lost the strategic war against collectivism. To get rid of this quasi-Mourinho dullness, national teams should invest in long-term projects, so the coaches have more time and resources to work on the offense collectively.
The best example of this method is German's Joachim Löw. He has been managing the Panzers for more than ten years and under his command Germans were able to play some good collective and attacking football.
Giving coaches only ten or fifteen days a year to prepare a team is literally calling for a quasi-Mourinho tournament. Of course, there will always be Mourinhos, but the point is to have Guardiolas as well so there is a balance of strategies, versatility and ultimately better entertainment.
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