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Germany have students doing World Cup homework

Notes scribbled on a piece of paper and stuffed behind his shin pads helped goalkeeper Jens Lehmann become the hero when Germany beat Argentina on penalties at the quarter-finals of the last World Cup.

sports Updated: Jun 06, 2010 23:38 IST

Notes scribbled on a piece of paper and stuffed behind his shin pads helped goalkeeper Jens Lehmann become the hero when Germany beat Argentina on penalties at the quarter-finals of the last World Cup.

"Our notes," says sports scientist Juergen Buschmann from the German Sport University in Cologne.

Leading up to the 2006 tournament, Buschmann's students had been looking closely at Argentina's matches, minutely breaking down, analysing and categorising every scene.

From the mass of information the key data was relayed to the German football federation DFB, including the decisive information which eventually ended up in the hands of goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke - and down Lehmann's socks.

"Ayala, wait long, long run-up, right." Lehmann waited to the last, then dived to the right and stopped the shot from Robert Ayala. And Germany were in the semi-finals.

The sport university's work is proof that when it comes to major football tournaments, Germany leave nothing to chance.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa will now be the third time the DFB has worked with Buschmann and his team, following 2006 and Euro 2008.

For months, 54 students, using laptops provided by the federation, have been monitoring the World Cup teams. They have been paying particular attention to Germany's group opponents, Australia, Serbia and Ghana, and possible knock-out round opponents, but their analysis covers every World Cup team.

The data covers simple facts such as ball contact or the number of corners but goes much deeper to look at the "technical-tactical analysis of a team," says Buschmann.

The sport students are providing the German team with a complete package which includes team, player and coach dossiers and descriptions of the country.

"Of course, we cannot turn 11 carthorses into thoroughbreds, but when it comes to a semi-final against Italy then it's this extra one or two per cent that could prove decisive," said Buschmann.