Spain- Another Level

All the talk has been of the FA’s dispute with FIFA over the poppy situation. Any right-minded person can tell you who is in the wrong here but that whole argument will soon be forgotten once the referee blows his whistle. Soon the anger will subside and those watching (and probably a few of the England players as well) will become enchanted with the Spanish style of football.

Yes, England have some decent players and regularly qualify for major finals, but they are nowhere near the level of Spain, but to be fair to the English no one is. The last 4 years has seen the great underachiever in world football realise its’ potential and take football to such a level that has barely been witnessed over the last 50 years.  Yes Spanish football as a whole is at the peak of its’ footballing powers. Arguably only the great Dutch and Brazilian teams of years gone by have matched the level of this current Spain side in terms of international football. The surprise was that it took the Spanish so long to reach this level or even to compete for major international honours.

Spanish football has always had great club sides. Of course Barcelona and Real Madrid will immediately spring to mind but, down the years there has been an array of other sides who have contributed to the spectacle of club football. Teams such as, Valencia, Zaragoza, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Deportivo have all produced great sides at least once over the past 50 years. Such teams have dominated European football with Real Madrid winning the competition a record, 9 times and Barcelona had reached numerous finals before their belated first victory in 1992. Even the likes of Valencia managed to reach consecutive finals at the turn of the century. So why had this club success never been translated into international glory as with other countries such as Germany? It’s too hard to say.

One theory is that the players found it difficult playing with people from other regions of Spain. For example the Catalan players from Barcelona would find it hard to call someone from Madrid a team-mate. However this issue has been addressed in the last 20 years. A review of Spanish football led to more emphasis on youth internationals, and bringing together the young talents on a more regular basis. The other development was the implementation of the “tiki-taka” style, which every side from schoolboy to the full squad were to use. In addition all the club sides were encouraged to pick up this style for the greater good of Spanish football, and indeed nearly all have.

The most successful example is Barcelona. One of the first teams in Spain to house their young players, Barcelona could therefore spend more time teaching their young players. essentially Barcelona preached the same methods as the Spanish FA but with more emphasis on movement and awareness. Hence, the sight of someone such as Messi popping up in centre midfield when a teammate vacates the position or the likes of Pedro racing back to win possession when he’s lost the ball, puting the team over the individual. This simple message has produced a generation of supreme Spanish talents for Barcelona who have gone on to dominate European football. With so many coming from Barcelona, the national side has benefited with their styles so similar and the work ethic of the Barcelona players rubbing of on the others. Also the players are no longer averse to playing with those from rival areas of Spain. The fact that many have met in the youth sides means there is a great comradery within the national team.

Now that particular barrier has been broken down success has come, with both World cup and European Championship victories and it doesn’t look like stopping. Barcelona continue to produce and their outstanding success has encouraged many Spanish sides to follow their lead with a greater variety of teams now producing sublime talents that can play in the style of the national team.

This style is currently on show against England. I forgot the kick off time so I missed the first twenty minutes but was informed that it was the usual from Spain. On average 80% possession of the ball and complete domination of the game. Spain play the ball so well that they bewitch the opposition and put so much fear into them that they are often scared to leave their own half. Spain’s’ complete control of a football game can be summed up in tonight’s game. The England supporters have cheered as if they’ve scored a goal on the rare occasions that a player has actually ventured beyond the half way line. Still, England have managed to keep it scoreless at half time, but the way Spain play you know it is only a matter of time before they’ll find the smallest of gaps to hurt you.

Anyway I’m away to enjoy the rest of the game!

4 Responses

  1. There’s me forgetting Spain’s’ record in friendlies!!! England got a lucky break but defended well. Spain never really burst a gut, and didn’t look that bothered (could tell that when they brought Torres on). Why did Lescott not get man of the match and why do England never call up the great Shola Ameobi?

  2. Because Shola is too good for England. Also, the difference between the sides tonight was England’s defending, the win was deserved.

  3. Spain are still on a different planet from England.

  4. It was actually quite good that England won. Maybe teach Spain that playing in 2nd gear won’t win them every game!

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