An Autopsy of Spain’s Dominance

Leonardo Da Vinci is often described as a man who awoke from a deep slumber only to find that the rest of the world was still sleeping. He was a genius. Make no mistake I am just an average guy but some times feel like I am watching a different game than the rest of the world.

I don’t know if it’s the hype, their good looks or their reputation but the Spaniards are dazzling everyone with their game.

I first noticed them in Euro 2008. There was nothing fantastic, miraculous or dazzling. There were no super stars in the team. They all looked like a group of midgets compared to the other European teams. They did not have a Thiery Henry, a Ronaldinho or a Messi, all of whom are super stars in this beautiful game. But together these Spaniards began to play simple football brilliantly. They approached the game with a very simple attitude. They do not do anything brilliant, only following the basics that we teach school kids. They were organized, simplistic and very direct about their objectives. Most important of all they are all on the same page. It’s like a hive mentality that bees & ants follow. It’s the most important reason for their success. For 90 minutes they are persistent and aggressive. 11 players in sync with each other, it’s as if 1 super brain controls all of them.Image

So what is it that they do?

1. They keep the ball on the ground. This helps them to maneuver the ball to & fro at lightning pace. The aerial ball takes time to control & allows the opponents to react.

2. They concentrate more on possession then attacking. This prevents the opponents from getting the feel of the ball/game & building any momentum. Make no mistake; every player knows that when that whistle blows the butterflies in his stomach are pacified only after he gets the feel of the ball. Only then does his confidence levels rise. Until that happens even the great Messi is only as good as a school boy learning the ropes. They frustrate the opponent by just keeping the ball.

3. They receive the ball, pass the ball, move around and repeat the same thing. This only gets better as the game goes on. They hypnotize you with their simple passing before they surprise you with an all out attack with a wall pass or they play a through ball that cuts open your defense as easily as a knife goes through butter. Before you know it half of their team is in your goalkeeper’s backyard waiting to poke that ball into the goal.

4. While all the other teams only want to move forward the Spaniards move forward, backward left & right. So there is vertical & lateral movement. This makes it very difficult for your defenders to position themselves & predict where & when the Spaniards will attack

5. They position themselves very close to each other & move together hence always out numbering the opponent with just their basic passing. There is no dribbling, fancy stepovers or lightning speed.

While the whole foolish world thinks this is boring, it is in fact one of their most potent weapons. The opponent tires themselves physically & mentally most of the time by just chasing the ball around the park. When they do get the ball they feel rushed & try to attack in haste. This possession tactic creates a delusion in the mind of the opponents that they have to do something fast or they might not get another chance. They do not take their time to build an attack & hence results in Spain winning the all back very easily.

Their bility to run with the ball & keep possession has not miraculously developed overnight but grown over time. Their game is like a blunt sword that is being sharpened. The longer they play together the sharper & better they become. While the Spaniards can be compared to a Samurai’s sword the other teams in the world should be compared to a Hammer that get weaker after prolonged use. Hence the injuries & fatigue that plague most teams as the tournament progresses seems to elude the Spaniards. Coincidence!!! I don’t think so…lol

It’s a fact that running with the ball energizes a player & running without the ball drains your energy faster than anything else. This is one of their basic principles. Scoring is not a priority, possession is. I love the Spaniards because they are all Humble players. They know that their achievements are credit to their team performance & not individual brilliance.

The most talented player is Andres Iniesta, & I love him but lets be honest he is no Messi or Christiano Ronaldo. He is not faster than the former & definitely not more powerful than the latter BUT he fits into his team like a piece of a perfect puzzle. The same can be said about all the other Spaniards. Xavi is just a distributor & he knows it. This time Spain have benefited from Mourinho’s influence on Alonso & Ramos. Never before has Spain looked so solid at the back, something that Barcelona can learn from.

They all are there to perform a certain role. It’s a very simple part to play, nothing fancy. They all follow the basics. On their own they are insignificant & powerless but together they become an unstoppable force. Even Torres looks good in this team, a player who in my books has done a complete 180 degree turn in the last 4yrs. That’s another discussion for another day.

My question is are Spain playing brilliantly or is the rest of the world playing poorly. The Spaniards are following the basics brilliantly, while the other teams have forgotten about the basics & are chasing the SUN!!!! They have been blinded; all the teams are hell bent on scoring a goal & forgetting that you have to play football 1st.