Technical analysis of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ was the focal point of the FIFA/UEFA Conference for National Coaches and Technical Directors, which took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 16-17 September.

Representatives of the 54 UEFA members gathered for the two-day event in order to reflect in depth on the tournament, which ended just over two months ago. During the conference Germany coach Joachim Low was honoured for having lifted the title in Brazil and was congratulated by his counterparts. Low accepted their compliments, but speaking to Ioan Lupescu, UEFA Chief Technical Officer and a member of the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) at the World Cup, he emphasised that the whole team, rather than just the coach, was responsible for the accomplishment: “All the cogs must mesh together and every piece of the puzzle has to fit in order to have a complete picture at the end.”

The coach, who has been at the helm of the German national team since 2006, also gave a detailed insight into the work that went on before and during the tournament in Brazil. “The main task for any coach is to select the right players,” he said. “Especially at competitions like that, where a player’s character plays an important role.”

Furthermore, Low attributed a large portion of the triumph to youth coaches, without whose efforts such an achievement would not have been possible. “Youth coaches create world champions,” he said, pointing out that the work done at grassroots level was a result of the successful new structures - including the so-called ‘Performance Centres’ - implemented by the German Football Association (DFB) in the wake of the difficulties the country’s national side had around the turn of the century.

Deschamps: Nothing beats participating at a World Cup
Alongside the technical analysis of the World Cup, which was presented by TSG head Jean-Paul Brigger, fellow TSG members Gerard Houllier, Mixu Paatelainen and Gines Melendez outlined diverse aspects of the game and highlighted the latest trends to have developed in world football. In a subsequent podium discussion, five European coaches who took part at Brazil 2014 expanded on their work before and during the tournament.

France coach Didier Deschamps described it as a huge “adventure”, going on to say that “as a player or a coach, nothing beats participating at a World Cup.” The strategist, who became a world champion himself in 1998, also emphasised that “team spirit is decisive”.  France were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Germany in Brazil, but Deschamps said that “nine of my players were under 25 at the World Cup. It was a great experience for them and they’ll take a lot from it and be stronger at the European Championship on home soil in two years.”

Fabio Capello had similar thoughts as his Russia side gained valuable know-how ahead of the World Cup to be staged in the country in 2018. Meanwhile, Vicente Del Bosque, coach of reigning European champions Spain, praised Germany as “a fantastic example of patience”, and said that “individual players can make the difference but what set Germany apart was that they won as a team”.

England’s Roy Hodgson and Croatia’s Niko Kovac both learned much from the tournament despite their respective teams’ early exits, while Kovac, the second-youngest coach at Brazil 2014, spoke of the challenges of managing players who had been his team-mates just months earlier.

Fewer injuries thanks to Fair Play
The second day of the conference focused on medical issues and refereeing. Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer, looked back on the World Cup from a medical perspective and gave a comprehensive explanation of the procedure for drug testing both before and during the tournament. Massimo Busacca, Head of the FIFA Refereeing Department, described the process of selecting and preparing officials for the World Cup. Both speakers highlighted the topic of Fair Play and the fact that there were 40 per cent fewer injuries in Brazil than there were four years earlier in South Africa.

To conclude matters, Alex Horne, general secretary of the English FA, explained the new structure of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and also clarified how coaches can actively contribute their proposals.

After two intense days packed with new ideas and information, the national team coaches will return to their sides with fresh insights, and will no doubt incorporate some of them into their work.

The conferences for the three outstanding continental associations are to take place at the end of September and the end of October. From 30 September to 1 October, FIFA, alongside African football’s governing body CAF, will stage a Technical Conference in Cairo. From 29-31 October the last conference for member associations of Asia’s AFC and Oceania’s OFC will be held in Kuala Lumpur.