Giovane Elber was the Bundesliga's most successful player with stints at Bayern and Mönchengladbach. The Brazilian star talks about his DW-WORLD.DE blog, in German and Brazilian, and Germany's chances at the World Cup.
Giovane Elber is keeping his eye on the ball for DW-WORLD.DE
DW-WORLD.DE : Your World Cup blog o n DW-WORLD.DE (in German and Brazilian) will start tomorrow. What do you thi n k of the idea?
Giova n e Elber: I think it's great. The first thing I did when I returned home to Brazil was setting up the television to receive Deutsche Welle so our family doesn't lose contact with the German language. I am thrilled with the chance to write a blog since they are really gaining in popularity. I'm really looking forward to telling soccer fans about the World Cup and my life.
What are you expecti n g from your time kicki n g it arou n d with DW-WORLD.DE's readers?
I hope that people will take part with comments and questions so we can swap our soccer and life experience in a laid-back setting, that makes it very important that people chose to take part. I'll talk about my experiences as a player and maybe share a few peculiar anecdotes.
Brazilian soccer fans have good reason to be excited about the World Cup
The Elber blog is goi n g to co n ce n trate mai n ly o n the World Cup. Are Brazilia n s already excited about the World Cup?
World Cup fever is running almost as hot in Brazil as it is in Germany, where everyone is getting ready. Here people only talk about the Copa, and most the stores have some kind of World Cup products on the shelves. Everyone is hoping for the best World Cup of all time.
Which teams do you thi n k are the favorites?
To me the favorites are always the same: doubtlessly the Brazilians, then come Argentina, England, Germany, who are always strong at home, and Portugal, who are good for a surprise under Scolari. There are also a couple of teams from Africa that could make it into the round of 16 or quarter-finals.
The 2006 Brazilian side is even better than four years ago when they won the Cup
Is today's Brazilia n Selecao better tha n i n 2002?
Yes, they are stronger. All the players on the roster could also play for the Selecao. There are a lot of exceptional players like Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Kaká, Robinho and Adriano. Carlos Alberto Parreira can be pleased with the team he has to coach, but it's up to him to find a way of not being surprised by teams with good tactical formations.
Could the excess of good players become a problem for Parreira?
I don't think so. All the players know that the World Cup is the biggest showcase of international soccer. Everyone knows his role in the Selecao. Naturally someone like Ronaldinho or Ronaldo always wants to play, but when they're not in good form they need to make way for others.
Rumors have it that a number of teams would like to take Ballack from his Bayern teammates
Some of the ca n didates for the Germa n World Cup squad are stuck i n a slump. What are the cha n ces Kli n sma n n 's team wi n s the title?
Germany's strength has always been playing a collective and compact game. Klinsmann has put together good team and a couple of successes during friendly matches, but the World Cup is something completely different. Defense, where the Germans are traditionally strong, is this German team's weak point. From the midfield to the strikers there are players like Ballack, Klose, Kuranyi, and Podolski who can decide a game.
Will 2006 be "Ballack's" World Cup?
Ballack is having a good stretch, when the rumors about him leaving Bayern Munich are ignored. But he's a professional who can tune out those kinds of problems and concentrate on Bayern and the national team. He can be a big help to Klinsmann's younger players, like Podolski.
What could happe n if Ballack is missi n g from a decidi n g World Cup match?
Then Germany will suffer a lot, he plays a key role in the German team. If he isn't 100 percent fit or misses a game here or there it will be very difficult for the Germans. The German tactical system and midfield rely on him.
Team captian Michael Ballack, right, is one of the few German players doing well in league matches
What advice would you give Ballack: Stay at Bayer n or switch to a differe n t club?
I would tell him to stay. After I left Munich I learned that there are very few clubs that work as professionally as Bayern. It's a top club. But if Ballack is planning to experience a different culture and gets an offer from Real Madrid or Manchester United, it will be something for him to think about. Maybe it would even be good for German soccer if he played in a foreign country. The German national team is missing players with foreign experience, like Klinsmann, Matthäus and Hässler had.
How would you grade Kli n sma n n 's work, especially his n ot exactly u n co n troversial trai n i n g methods?
He is doing an excellent job and getting the most out of what the players have to offer. He is trying to bring something new from his experience in Italy and the USA, and that's a shock for the German team -- just like it's a shock for Brazilians that Matthäus holds Atlético Paranaense practices on game days.
But what Klinsmann really needs to do is get the defense sorted out and cut out the goalkeeper rotation. He needs to name his number one goalie -- that would calm the goalie as well as the defense.
A consumer magazine questioned the safety of a number of World Cup stadiums
How would you assess the orga n izatio n al preparatio n s for the World Cup i n Germa n y ? Are the discussio n s about stadium safety a n d bird flu of co n cer n to Brazilia n s?
The reports of bird flu did shock people here, but we hope that the problem will be under control by the time the World Cup starts. It is well-known that the Germans are organizing everything very carefully so Brazilians are looking favorably on the World Cup preparations.
Safety is always a topic of discussion at major events, but in Brazil, people talk a lot more about the beauty of the stadiums, which are shown during Bundesliga broadcasts. On weekends, reports about the host venues are also broadcast. Germany's foreign publicity is currently very good.