Dull. Monotonous. Boring. But Blooming Brilliant
Yesterday, Spain become the first team in history to win three major international tournaments in a row, and they did it by winning 4-0, the biggest ever win in a European Championship final. There is no doubt that they deserved to win the tournament, but their domination of international football over the past four years has now reached the stage where everyone is a bit bored of them.
In 2008, everybody was marveling at Spain’s expansive passing style and their wonderful technical ability. They hadn’t won anything before, they were the under dogs. That is why everyone wanted them to win. It was the same story in South Africa in 2010. They played superb football and deserved to win the tournament. But fast forward to the present day, and we are all, well, a bit fed up with them, to be honest. They have become the Manchester United and Barcelona of football. Nobody wants them to win, because they always do. That consistency is boring. It is why a lot of people wanted Manchester City and Real Madrid to win their respective leagues last season. City had not won the Premier League before, Real Madrid hadn’t won the Spanish league in four seasons before this year. They were both the underdogs, and people take great pleasure in the underdog winning; it is why competitions like the FA Cup are still so magical, because of the uncertainty. Take that away and it become a tad monotonous.
Their style of football throughout the tournament has also changed from 2008/10. No longer do they play with such urgency or speed. The triangles and movement were still there, but it felt like they were toying with the opposition, keeping possession just because they could. Their game against Portugal was probably the dullest game I have ever watched in my short life time. It was just pass after pass after pass. Sideways, sideways, sideways, back, forward, back. That, in my opinion, is not exciting. Football is all about goals and goal scoring chances. Give me a scrappy long ball game with chances over tiki-taka football any day.
It isn’t just the fact that Spain win everything, it is that their team is so amazingly talented. Look at the players who didn’t play or barely played. Victor Valdes, Pepe Reina, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Raul Albiol, Santi Carzola, Juan Mata, Pedro and Fernando Llorente. Oh, and Carlos Puyol and David Villa were unavailable through injury.
Such talent is bound to cause jealousy amongst the other nations.
However, for all the Spain hating, we have to acknowledge that they are a fantastic team. To win three successive titles is an incredible achievement, regardless of how boring they are. They are well set up to continue the current team’s success too. Spain are also the under 21, under 19 and under 17 European champions; a scary thought, considering they are already years ahead of the other big teams.
Tactically, Vicente Del Bosque got it spot on and has done for the last two years. Despite not playing with a proper striker for the majority of the tournament, Spain were still able to bang in twelve goals. Fernando Torres finished as the tournament’s top scorer despite only starting one game. Their much discussed 4-6-0 formation is in reality a 2-8-0 when they are going forward. Jordi Alba – who would be my choice for player of the tournament – and Alvaro Arbeloa basically play as wide midfielders, providing the width for the team. This means that Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas et al can push forward into the space created by defenders going to Alba and Arbeloa. No team has found an answer to them yet.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether this Spain team is the best team of all time. It is a difficult one to judge, considering the Brazil team of the 1970’s were awesome, as were they in 2002. What we wouldn’t give for a Back To the Future style Delorian to be made so we could have a tournament consisting of the greatest teams in international history. We can dream, but Spain are certainly the best team of my lifetime and despite me not liking their style of football, It is effective and I consider myself lucky to watch this era of Spanish dominance.