Tomorrow Salut! Sunderland brings you a very positive view of Spain, as you’d expect since it is our Who Are You? feature in which a Spanish supporter is interviewed; Jeremy Robson is not so sure, and gets his retaliation in first …
What a sad indictment it is that Spain will be contesting a World Cup final.
The only pleasure to be derived from this is vicarious. It’s great for the citizens of a true football nation to see their national side in the final for the very first time.
The Primera Liga is a wonderful competition with superb football, great support and wonderful stadiums etc. The people of Spain deserve some success at international level, but that’s about as far as it goes.
Why is it a sad indictment? Take a look at their results. They had the worst possible starts to the tournament losing by a single goal to the unfancied Swiss. Their most convincing scoreline was a 2-0 win over the Hondurans who featured a significant number of part time players in their ranks. The 2-1 victory over a good Chilean side was aided and abetted by poor refereeing which reduced the South Americans to ten men for a huge part of that game.
Spain 1 Portugal 0
Spain 1 Paraguay 0
Spain 1 Germany 0
Spain 2 Honduras 0
Spain 2 Chile 1
However, that’s enough of the statistics. Spain currently has an abundance of talent, to the extent that players of the calibre of Reina, Torres, Fabregas etc are not guaranteed to start. Then there’s Mikel Arteta and Marco Senna!
When Spain won Euro 2008, they did it with some style playing a wonderful brand of possession football keeping the ball for sometimes a couple of minutes at a time and stringing thirty, forty passes or more together in majestic style, and then suddenly bursting to life in the penalty area to score. They seem to have forgotten that this is the purpose of the build up. They keep the ball all day, the possession stats are sometimes overwhelming but they seem to have forgotten the reason why you have the ball.
The CBC commentator remarked that the game against the Germans was “for the purists”; it was more suited to insomniacs. My 17 year old football mad daugher fell asleep at half time and woke up to the sound of post match Spanish celebtrations.
Iniesta has been referred to by some as the best player in the World Cup. He has dazzlingly quick feet and dribbling ability and catches the eye with some of his slick movement. Rarely though, can a player of such high quality have failed so profoundly to produce an end product. Torres has been taken off regularly having failed to deliver in this tournament.
The Germans rather ironically have a concept which has its origins in the philosophies of Kant and Goethe which is termed “Gestalt”, and which is often descibed as “the whole being greater than the sum of the parts”. In layman’s terms it might be thought of as teamwork or synergy.
The Spanish team/squad are providing evidence to turn this theory on it’s head. Arguably Spain have sufficient talent to have fielded two very strong sides in the competition, and yet many of their performances, if not results suggest that Del Bosque’s men are under performing as a unit.
Their success is being determined by a very effective defence and goalkeeper in Iker Casillas. This is perhaps surprising when you look at genuine individual brilliance that they have at their disposal. For me at least, in this tournament that has been sacrificed as part of the team ethic.
The team ethic has superceded the star players according to Diego Maradona as he offered an explanation of why the superstars were unable to shine at this tournament. He way well be right, and Spain may be the best example of that. Without the real stars shining bright, the team will also suffer lets remember. Spain seem to he happy to pass the ball around enlessly, patiently waiting for a defensive lapse, rather than using their inestimably taleneted individuals to unlock the opposition defence.
That should hearten the Dutch who are a very well organised unit. They come into the final in confident mood. They have scored a lot of goals in the last couple of games and will be aware that it may only take one to carry the trophy home on Sunday. I sincerely hope so.