Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Boring" Spain

Flashback 2008. Spain's squad of 23 in Euro 2008 had only 5 players from RM (2) & Barca (3). Spain played with 2 strikers throughout the tournament. Their 3-0 semi finals victory over an inspired Russian team was brilliant! That was the Spanish style we all loved.  

Another stat from those brilliant guys at Opta. Spain's possession during Euro 2008: 56.6%; WC 2010: 65.2%; Euro 2012: 68.2%! Improvement? More possession - Yes. But, also fewer goals. Less fun.

Football in Spain has always been based on the passing game, but now this passing game is used to put a sleeper hold on the opposition players (and the fans) before they finally score in the 85th minute (Which you will realise 30 minutes later when you wake up after having dozed off on the chair). While this passing style is the reason why I enjoy La liga, 'death by Tiki Taka' (which is how I describe the current Barcelona and Spanish style) is painfully boring.

I know it takes top players (not just 1-2, but the entire team) to execute this strategy and Spain has those players. But these extremely talented players can also go and thrash Portugal 4-1 if they play the right way. 

The problem is that it looks like VDB will continue to remain the coach of Spain. If Spain win the Euros, his 4-6-0 formation will become the template for World Cup 2014 as well. Ouch!

Hence for the love of football, I am supporting Portugal. Would love to see this happen again, but this time hopefully the goal will stand! C'mon Ronaldo!! 


  1. Have hardly watched any game this Euro but here is my prediction
    1-1 after 90 minutes with Spain enjoying 66% possession.
    After that even the predictor channel goes to sleep :)

  2. Haha.. Congratulations to the predictor for staying up for 90 minutes :)

  3. Teams like inter and chelsea have found barcelona out over the last few seasons, by sitting back and stifling barcelona. It could be that the opposition is contributing the increase in possession that barcelona ( and this current spain side who seem to be using the barcelona template) by sitting back and allowing them to have it.

    Rather than placing the blame at spain's feet at making it boring, it might be worth considering the fact that most opposition teams might get destroyed if they tried anything other than sitting back. And, thereby the sense of boredom that emanates from the spain games. Italy did try to push up higher and try to limit spain and i thought it made for an interesting game.

    Just as spain/barcelona redefined posession football, other teams might have to redefine the way they counter it. And the currrent way to do that seemingly puts the spectators to sleep. Not me though, spain seem a lot more ponderous but really hasn't been boring. :)

  4. Spain wants the ball not to score, but to prevent opposition from scoring which is the problem I have. Barcelona suffered without the goals of David Villa. Passing is fine, but it becomes pointless/boring if the final objective is not to score a goal.

    I don't think it is about the opposition, Chelsea got lucky with the amount of missed chances. Infact VdB wants opposition to sit back. To quote him before the QFs, "We play against very deep teams and we can't change that. What we have to do is find a way to attack them, hurt them. But that has its good side too: they attack us less."

    In my opinion I want Spain to play like how they did in Euro 2008. Back then they had front three of Torres, Villa and Silva.. Right now the best three for that role is Pedro, Llorente/Torres and Jesus Navas/Silva. Only one of Busquets or Xabi should play. Against Portugal as well, you saw how threatening they were when Pedro and Jesus Navas were playing in the Extra time.

  5. That really is a bit of a farcical argument - you have the ball to score goals without which you really can't win. They pass the ball around until they can find that bit of space to exploit. Its not like they don't create any chances all game.

    Spain looked off their game yesterday/ portugal played really well to limit the space the spanish had. It isn't evident that they don't want to score a goal and its only a side effect of them keeping the ball while trying to break down a parked bus in front of goal is that the parked bus is parked. That is as much as del bosque said in that comment. IMO, It can be much harder to break down teams who are sitting deep and they're built to play a style which can break such teams down - which does make for very good looking football.

    And the david villa argument again isn't really true. I'm fairly sure i heard a commentator in la liga say that barcelona had scored loads more goals last season than they did in the season previous to the last. He really isn't a pivotal player for them, but he is a bit of big game player. But he definitely would've been a good player for spain, in light of torres' current form.

    The reason i think del bosque tries to revert to the 4-6-0 formation is that the possession template for the current team requires a focal point in attack who is almost a midfielder who fits in with the theme of the play - much like messi. They don't need wide players who run in behind the defence and swing balls in with their style of play. Torres isn't such a technical player - neither are any of the other strikers. Silva comes awfully close along with fabregas. But i do agree that using biscuits and alonso together seems a little redundant and cautious of del bosque. But it has worked fairly well so far.

    And pedro seems to be very effective, but he probably is as effective in such late stages of the game because the opposition might not have the legs to deal with his pace/quick feet.

    Spain back in 2008 were definitely more engaging to watch but the success of spain might've led to other teams being more aware of them which definitely has played a role in how spain's games go these days. I'm not sure if teams sat back against spain 08 as much as they do now. And their style of play also seems to have evolved, i'm not sure why but its a lot less direct now. Maybe the barcelona influence has been a bit too much on the spain squad. :)

    And chelsea's 'fluke' as you put it and inter's tactics might've only strengthened their resolve to never give the ball back to the opposition. :P

  6. Dinesh, I think we are are watching two separate games :)

    All of Spain's threat has come down the wings with Alba and to a lesser extent Arbeloa. That is why they need a proper target man up front to finish what the midfielders and full backs create.

    Also Del Bosque and Spain prefers opposition to sit back. Waiting for opposition to tire until late in the game before bringing Pedro and co.. Attributing the boring aspect of these games on the opposition alone is incorrect.

    Where I agree is that the Influence of Barca's style is increasing and I am hating this. Real Madrid scored 121 league goals last season, the highest in La Liga's history. Much prefer watching Spain play their style of the passing game for more reason than one :)

  7. I'd typed out a few paragraphs and i lost it when i tried to publish it as a google account. :P

    And, i'm not sure if we were watching different games. We were probably watching the same game with our colored opinions on spain. We were however, arguing on different points of the argument. Spain could be more effective with a 'target man' and they could actually be playing to tire the opposition before unleashing pedro. It isn't something that can be conclusively decided on by watching a game/s. I think they're trying to win the game by playing in their way (the barcelona way :D) and it makes people sleep against teams who sit back.

    I think spain aren't boring and cynical. You don't. I like watching barcelona, you like madrid. Enough said i suppose. :)