‘Need to develop strikers who can finish’, says Klinsmann Doha

Frenchman Arsene Wenger, Chief of FIFA Global Football Development, was all praise for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, which concluded on Sunday with Argentina )emerging champions. Argentina defeated France 4-2 on penalties after the match ended in a high-scoring 3-3 draw at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

“Quality-wise, it’s been an outstanding tournament. Overall, it’s been very interesting and very promising as well,” said Wenger during the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) discussion and analysis on this global football competition, at the QNCC Media Centre, in Doha, Qatar.

The former Arsenal manager Wenger, was joined by Jurgen Klinsmann, a former German striker and coach who helped West Germany win the 1990 World Cup.

Klismann echoed Wenger’s sentiments. “It’s been a wonderful experience, a FIFA World Cup organised to perfection. Being so close to all the stadiums has been amazing. It’s been very intense for us. Now we have the chance to discuss some of the trends we’ve seen and give our thoughts and ideas to associations around the world about what to look at and what to look out for going forward, based on what we’ve seen here over the past three and a half weeks in Qatar,” stated Klinsmann.

Wenger felt that mid-blocks and compactness in central areas were the defensive strategies of most teams. “Overall, what we’ve seen is that mid-blocks and compactness in central areas have been the dominant way to play and to defend. That may be because the defensive line has moved a little bit higher up, but also because compactness when defending has been very important,” observed Wenger.

Klinsmann was of the opinion that every team requires a striker to finish. “When teams are so compact in the middle and they do it with so much more intensity, it makes it very difficult to find your forwards or your No. 9s in a certain way, or your strikers through the middle. As a consequence, teams try to get the ball out to the wings. They try to find some space down the touchline and put crosses in. But you need a No. 9 to finish things off,” Klinsmann mentioned.

“It’s crucial, then, that when you want to convert the opportunities you create – most of which come down the wings – you need to have players in the box that are capable of finishing and scoring goals. It’s no coincidence that France and Argentina are in the final, because they have the players to convert the chances created down the flanks.”

Klinsmann also pointed out the importance of developing centre-forwards. “Looking at coach education and player development as a whole, there will be a need in the future to develop strikers with the ability to take chances, to be clinical in the box and focus on what really matters. I think we’ll see a trend where people will be looking out for kids coming through youth development systems that are good finishers and also in leagues around the world. There’s a need for No. 9s in the future and it’s a role that will be discussed a lot after this World Cup.”

Goals from crosses: Though there have been fewer crosses in open play than at Russia 2018 (13.5 per match in 2022 as opposed to 14.3 in 2018), there have been 21 more goals scored from crosses (45 in 2022 as opposed to 24 in 2018), an increase of 83 per cent

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