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Dr. Lajos Mariássy: South America, England or Central Europe? I.

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South America, England or Central Europe? I.
Dr. Lajos Mariássy | 28/06/1928

The “world championship” of football has been decided. I deliberately quoted "world championship" because the first place winner at the Ninth Olympics can in no way claim the proud title of the best national team in the world.
Competition was fairly moderate. A complete team of good Danes, England, Sweden and Spain were not present and — last but not least — representatives of Central European football were also missing from this fight. What this means is best judged by who witnessed the Olympic struggles from which the two South American teams made it to the finals without any particular effort.
But what would have happened if the teams from the above countries had been greeted when they entered the field with a horn sounding far from the balcony of the Stadium’s marathon tower? By no means would two South American teams make it to the finals,
in fact, it seems likely that even one of them would have had a hard time getting there!
The test of the strength of the nations has thus already taken place, but precisely because of the lack of the possibility of comparison, the big question mark rises there at the end of the results. Which one play the best, most beautiful and most successful football on Earth in Central Europe, South America or England?
It is difficult to judge the question, because we have only an indirect basis of comparison. We have seen English professionalist teams against Central European teams, we know Central European teams and we have seen the South Americans at the Olympics. The criticism is strongly influenced by the fact that we did not have the opportunity to see them against each other for a definite purpose, in this case in the midst of fighting for the world championship.
However, the observer of the Olympic match — if he also knows Central European football, if he has seen the struggles of the elite English teams — is in a slightly easier position to judge which continent is really playing football, not only its sporting aspects, but also the intelligence and invention required to play, the commanding, and therefore, to some extent, the ability, in a word, the intellectual, mental manifestations of football.
There are big mistakes — which I myself almost fell into at first — are those who claim that the style of football in Central Europe and South America is the same. This style identity only moves in the field that is, in essence, a feature of every game of football. Such a common feature, even with the difference of style, is breaking the result, to which the way to it can then be the combination (with short or long servings), escape and, or, the rudimentary rush.
The nature of a team's style is determined by which of the following paths it follows in the pursuit of results, and whether it can be used alternately in a timely manner in relation to the requirements of the situation. The quality of a style, its degree, and its effectiveness therefore depend on this waiting ability, the so-called tactic.
From attack to defense and, on the other hand, to act through conscious control, recognizing the opponent's weaknesses, finding the most favorable execution methods in a fraction of a second and executing it immediately, this means the perfection of style. The basic prerequisite for all this is, of course, the ability to handle the ball, the technical skill, which can be difficult in today's age of strong, dynamic football, but the perfect style of play leads to results even with smaller technical skills, albeit with some twists. It will be surprising to the reader to claim that South America does not play the perfect style of football.
Belgium's Braine proved to be the best leading striker in the Olympics, followed by Ferreira and Petrone, while Fernandez, of Uruguay, was the best team axis, the best leading midfielder. Then there were the so-called commanders of detailed actions — for this, all the battles and all the cover of South America understood it perfectly — but this installment control could not have the effect to be felt immediately in light of the situation, and the South American troops the mosaic-like activity that controls the detailed actions evolved into the style from which they put their game together,
while Central European troops use these details only as tools sometimes to lead an attack or defense.
Among the two South American teams, Argentina was the best and dropped undeservedly from first place. The characteristic of Argentina's arbitrary game — which can be found in Uruguay anyway — is that they fight for possession of the ball and is able to keep it great. Whether an attacker or a defender, there is always a player to cover a teammate so that if the former fails to intervene, there is an immediate opportunity for correction. From this characteristic, then, a small group in a ringing, undulating shape emerges, performing the detailed actions. This small group consists of a total of four to five players, including both sides, and usually ripples near one of the areas. From this ring, either the defender or the attacking player is released. If this happens to the defender, a longer, shot-like but twisted pass is usually thrown forward by his fellow player directly to the wing position, less often indirectly through centre-half, who then runs at lightning speed until a defender gets in his way. If there is no defender on the road or he manages to replay it, he pushes the ball into the middle, where its fate is then settled. If, on the other hand, an obstacle is encountered in his path, the so-called ringing detail action is formed again — now around the opposite area. If the striker can already emerge from this, the pass comes, and if the opponent takes possession of the ball, the forward ring comes.
This method of play then results in their forward line having such a dominant role that the two defenders have an extremely difficult task. After all, the half-backs are distributed in these installments, so a 40-50 meter gap often breaks between the two forward lines, which can then be easily crossed with the ball in their possession, because they only encounter another obstacle around the opponent's area. Therefore there is no lightning-fast rotation of wings in South American football, no long cross passes from the half-backs to the opposite winger.
So there is no change in the game, no surprise and many of the qualities that make it one of the most outstanding features of Central European football. For this, they lack the advanced tactical sense of a higher order, but they also lack the appropriate players. It may have been Uruguay's centre-half who tried to do this at times, but his experimentation in this usually ran into the action rings that soon formed due to the high speed of South American players, got into the center of it, and then went again as described above.
The reader can imagine a human ring of players who are constantly in motion, fighting for possession of the ball with extreme speed, and whose undulating movement finally reaches the forward line, where the player escaping the ring then throws the ball in front of the goal and shoots it, or again, but now a ring is waving in the opposite direction, and this is when he sees the difference between the South American style and the Central European style. Of course, all this is done with lightning speed, because their pace, great technique and huge superiority of condition make the fast execution, so to speak, smooth. Tactically, but mostly strategically, South American football is well below the representatives of Central European football.
Argentina's tactical know-how is already greater than that of Uruguay, thanks to its excellent centre-forward, Ferreira, and their insiders are well connected to the work of the halves and the protection of the halves. Many times, eight strikers, or eight covers, fought for the result, so that in the next moment, the five defenders, supplemented with covers, try to thwart the opponent's attacks. In Uruguay, it was often embarrassing to watch the strike of the striker, leaving his cover alone and waiting for them to serve the ball in front of him after a sweaty fight. It would have roared in front of the Central European audience. The hallmark of South American teams is that the first minutes of the match, often the entire first quarter of an hour, are spent studying the opponent's game.
The centre-half does this in particular. Many times, this study has a high price in a goal scored, such as in the Italy-Space match, but then probing the opponent's weaknesses and finding the most successful outcome, so that they prepared a war plan, they hit the opponent's weak points in the fastest paced game, they grind the defense on that side and then soon the result is there. So it was against Italy, where they saw that the brilliant player could not prosper against the two Italian defenders and so the centre-half instructed the strikers to shoot from afar and it is interesting that all three of Uruguay's goals fell from a long 25-meter shot. This is a feature they have in a few Central European teams.
Only the most brilliant ball artists of Central European teams can compete with South Americans in the ability to master the ball. All the forwards and half-backs are real jugglers with the ball. They remind me of the best of Konrád, Orth, Obitz and Nádlér.
Their technical skills are enormous. We didn't see any faulty hitchhiking, they're great at taking the ball even in the run. Their shooting technique is excellent, they can handle their bodies extremely flexible, their aerial work hardly leaves anything to be desired, their defenders do not cut the ball mindlessly, but pass it on curved and spinning, so that breaking it in the fullness of its trajectory, it falls in front of the fellow player, so it is not difficult to take it over.
They are determined, tireless, so that the opponent often has the impression that luck is helping them take possession of the ball. Not so. Their agility, speed, and excellent sense of position help them catch balls that look like are already considered dead-proof. With their physical qualities, they are definitely superior to Central European players.
Their shooting technique remains below that of their Central European rivals. Perhaps the reason for this is that their playing style does not recognize the possibility of free shooting and shooters such as Kohut, Takács II., Hirzer, Ströck and etc are not seen between them.