Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Analysis: Is Spain’s World Cup elimination the end for tiki-taka?

“Against such tactics, tiki-taka can seem naive in its steadfast commitment to conserving possession, but its impact already reaches so deep that it would prove impossible to fully uproot. It was Barcelona, with Lionel Messi, who first brought the ‘false nine’ tactic to a wider audience, while it is now commonplace to see goalkeepers methodically practising first-time passes during their pre-match warm-ups. The cult of possession has forced players in every position to sharpen up their technique and has made the scrutiny of passing completion statistics an early port of call in any after-match post-mortem.”

I’ve written a piece for AFP on why tiki-taka will endure despite Spain’s early exit from the World Cup, and you can read it here.

Related link: Chile end Spain’s reign at World Cup

Report: Nerveless Navas sends Spain into final

“FORTALEZA, Brazil — Jesús Navas settled a nail-biting penalty shoot-out 7-6 for Spain as the world and European champions edged Italy on a sultry evening in Fortaleza on Thursday to set up a Confederations Cup final meeting with Brazil.”

My AFP match report on Spain’s rope-a-dope semi-final victory over Italy at the Confederations Cup can be read here.

Report: Spain book Italy date in Confederations Cup semi-finals

“FORTALEZA, Brazil –  Spain set up a Confederations Cup semi-final reunion with Euro 2012 final victims Italy after beating Nigeria 3-0 on a steamy afternoon in Fortaleza on Sunday to secure top spot in Group B.”

My AFP match report on Spain’s characteristically slick defeat of Nigeria can be read here.

Reaction: Spain’s Total Football delights Del Bosque
Reaction: Injuries, finishing cost Nigeria, says Keshi
Analysis: Italy blunted by Balotelli withdrawal

Report: Spain crush Italy to win historic Euro 2012 crown

“KIEV — Spain confirmed their status as one of the greatest national teams in football history by overwhelming Italy 4-0 in Sunday’s Euro 2012 final in Kiev to retain their European crown.”

My AFP match report on the Euro 2012 final can be read here. I also wrote a tournament review, which can be found here.

Report: Fàbregas sends Spain into Euro 2012 final

“DONETSK, Ukraine — Spain reached their third consecutive major tournament final after overcoming neighbours Portugal 4-2 on penalties in the first Euro 2012 semi-final in Donetsk on Wednesday.”

Read my AFP match report here. I’ve also written a piece on Spain’s problems in attack (Fàbregas penalty brings Spain full circle), and an article on how Portugal can be proud of their achievements at Euro 2012 (Pride and positivity as Portugal bow out).

Report: Centurion Alonso sends Spain into Euro semi-finals

“DONETSK, Ukraine — Spain moved a step closer to an unprecedented treble of consecutive major international honours by beating France 2-0 in Donetsk on Saturday to reach the Euro 2012 semi-finals.”

My AFP match report on France’s rather feeble quarter-final exit at the hands of Spain can be found here, while you’ll find a Laurent Blanc reaction piece here.

World Cup tactics: Don’t neglect the holding role

As in 2006, three of the four semi-finalists at this year’s World Cup have played in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

For France, Portugal and Italy (whose 4-2-3-1 could also be interpreted as a 4-4-1-1) in 2006, read Spain, Germany and the Netherlands in 2010. Germany were the black sheep in 2006, with a 4-4-2 hinged upon a midfield diamond that featured Torsten Frings at the base and Michael Ballack at the tip. Uruguay are the odd ones out this time around, their 3-4-1-2 having initially morphed into a 4-3-1-2/4-3-2-1 and then a 4-4-2 for the semi-final defeat to Holland.

One of the most distinctive elements of the 4-2-3-1 is the presence of two deep-lying central midfielders in front of the defence. Spain, Germany and the Netherlands are not the only teams to have fielded two such players, but what has made their midfield configurations so effective is the way they have paired players with different qualities.

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World Cup tactics: How the quarter-finalists line up

On the eve of the World Cup, Football Further asked whether the 4-2-3-1 formation would continue to dominate as it did at the last tournament in 2006. The average position diagrams below, taken from all eight last-16 matches, demonstrate that while it remains the most popular shape in the international game, variations in tactics mean that it is being deployed in very different ways.

Uruguay: 4-3-1-2/4-3-2-1

Uruguay began the competition as predicted by playing in a 3-4-1-2 but after a dour goalless draw with France in their opening game they shifted to a flat back four, with Jorge Fucile shuffling along to left-back from central defence, Alvaro Pereira pushed forward from left wing-back into a genuine left-midfield role and Edinson Cavani brought in on the right side of the attack in place of playmaker Ignacio González. Reading of the formation depends on Diego Forlán’s positioning. He tends to play much deeper than Suárez, and slightly to the left, turning the shape into a 4-3-1-2, but Cavani’s tendency to pull wide means he often operates on roughly the same line as Forlán, with Suárez left to lead the line alone.

The average positions of Uruguay's players in the first half of their 2-1 victory over South Korea in the last 16; FIFA.com

 [Squad numbers: 1. Fernando Muslera; 16. Maxi Pereira, 2. Diego Lugano, 3. Diego Godin, 4. Jorge Fucile; 15. Diego Pérez, 17. Egidio Arévalo Ríos, 11. Alvaro Pereira; 7. Edinson Cavani, 10. Diego Forlán; 9. Luis Suárez]

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World Cup scouting: Jesús Navas (Spain)

If recent World Cup history teaches us anything, it’s that pre-tournament form is a fickle indicator of how sides will fare at the sport’s showpiece event. Favourites typically stumble at early hurdles (France and Argentina in 2002, Brazil in 2006) and the teams that make it to the final – as Italy and France demonstrated in 2006 – are often simply those that come into form at the right time.

Spain, then, have little reason to feel complacent. Undeniably the most attractive footballing side in the international game after their scintillating 2008 European Championship success, they qualified for the World Cup with a perfect record and are currently outright favourites with most bookmakers to secure the beautiful gold and malachite trophy for the first time in their history.

Their shock 2-0 defeat to the United States in the semi-finals of last summer’s Confederations Cup was, with hindsight, a timely setback. With fans and pundits blithely anticipating a meeting between Spain and Brazil in the final, the European champions were ambushed by a disciplined and spirited American side who brought their record-equalling 35-match unbeaten run to an abrupt and unexpected end. A year to the World Cup and Spain suddenly had to re-focus.

One of the challenges now facing coach Vicente del Bosque is maintaining levels of motivation in a team that essentially picks itself and also making sure that he has the right alternatives on the bench for the rare occasions when Spain’s passing game is frustrated. Jesús Navas has benefited from this precise quandary. The Sevilla winger has the pace and the attacking incisiveness to make the established first-teamers sweat and also gives Del Bosque a one-man Plan B should he need one.

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