Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Be-labouring The Spanish Point

Place your bets folks, who dares wins !! Almost a year after retaining the European Championship, and exactly a year to the FIFA 2014 world cup in Brazil, Spain continue to ride a crest of a wave. It is best to classify their current dominance as epic. Spain have written new paradigms into the game of football, and if they retain the world cup next year, they would be inducted into the hall-way of sporting immortals. Spanish soccer has now become a paragon. Not only central to the theme of winning, but excellent for it's production line of a range of superlative youngsters. It just won the UEFA under 20  championship with an intriguing team, and tipped to win the FIFA under 20 world cup in progress. It seems their reign has no end in sight.

FULL CIRCLE : I was insane enough during Euro 2012 to suggest the wheels was about to come off their cycle of dominance. Italy, Croatia, and Portugal were inspired enough in the tournament to push back on Spain's irrepressible form, and I sensed the moment had arrived when events would conflate with the collective will of nations to dethrone them.
Spain and Italy poised for EURO rematch
READ : Guess What, Spain has reached it's Plateau 

It proved to be a false call. They went on to do a demolition job on Italy in the EURO final, raising their game in that match to such unparalleled levels that sent a message of shock and awe, and still has  rivals cowering one year on.  This game is relentless in hatching plots and intrigues, and here we are again with a tasty grudge match in the confederations cup semi finals between guess who ? Italy and Spain. The world and European Champions have it all to do once again as they continue their incredible ascent up that greasy pole. Italy have some explaining to do, and scores to settle in practical terms after their spectacular flame-out on that barmy night in Kiev. Spain needn't listen. This fits in with my theme from last summer: has anyone out there been able to concoct a potion to neutralize Spain ? does soccer have it's own version of subversive resistance?

ACHILLES HEEL : Spain were held to a 1-1 home draw by Finland in March, in their 2014 world cup qualifier. They out-possessed and out played the Fins, who were resolute in their blanket defending on the edge of their box. Spain had so many men forward, it only took a counter-attack of a blowtorch type for Finland to equalize. If Spain had not scrambled a lucky winner in their next qualifier in France, they would have been in danger of not getting automatic qualification from their group. That close shave went largely unreported amid all the hype surrounding Spain. Had Nigeria played with a better presence of mind, and know how in front of goal in their confederations cup game last sunday, Spain's characterization of invincibility might have been seriously examined. The key to beating Spain is first and fore most a change in MINDSET, a stronger will, followed by a tactical plan of disciplined  defending  with two blocks, and counter attacks with intensity and purpose. The fissures in the Spanish last third is latent, but a tactical reality for opponents. Has anybody noticed that Spain's starting XI has been more or less unchanged for the last three years or that nine of the twenty outfield players in their current 23 man squad is 27+ and another three over 30 ? Here's the deal :

* If Spain's starting XI picks itself for three years, then why is all the young talent not seeping through ?

* If the squad if brimming with talent, how come the glass ceiling has not been broken ?

* With the age symmetry of the squad, won't it  be the case a large percentage of the current squad        
    getting phased out the same time ?

* If 60 % of the current squad are likely vanish at the same time, would the talent of the up-and-coming youngsters be a match for the unique experience of the departed ?

Hypothesis for consideration.

Sergio Ramos

BUCK THE TREND : The game has never stayed static, and we must fathom the surmounting of Spain. It's a prerequisite for the dynamism of the sport. This monumental epoch of Spanish soccer orthodoxy will be talked about for another one hundred years to come, no doubt. Spain might dig in for  more self preservation despite my call to arms, as they did a year ago, winning the Euro championship.

READ : LA ROJA turn-on the fury to Slay Italy , the Critics , the doubters, and I

We cannot eternally view Spain with rose tinted spectacles, we must start to challenge the status quo, hence I belong to the esoteric school of thought that seek to exalt a fiercer contest to Spain's reign, rather than the sport to remain paralyzed by their panache. An International record 28 games the world champions have gone unbeaten: It's time for  nations in the football community to take a good hard look at themselves and what they are doing. Spain are outstanding, but there is also an argument of a psychological inferiority hanging over the rest which is self evident. Change that, and the barriers start to fall.

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