Spain's success a triumph for possession game
Spain's football philosophy sounds simple - own the ball and you will own the game - but it takes incredible skill to execute it the way that has brought the Spaniards to their first World Cup final.sports Updated: Jul 08, 2010 15:35 IST
Spain's football philosophy sounds simple - own the ball and you will own the game - but it takes incredible skill to execute it the way that has brought the Spaniards to their first World Cup final.
No other team can match Spain's ability to maintain possession with precise, one-touch passes between constantly moving players.
Against Germany, the system worked like clockwork, with Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Pedro Rodriquez dominating possession in the midfield.
"As soon as we got the ball, we felt comfortable," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said.
His German counterpart Joachim Loew noticed that, too.
"They move the ball well and we couldn't play the way we like to play," he said. "They had a certain dominance."
Spain has inherited its style of play from the country's successful club teams, especially Barcelona and Real Madrid. After winning the European Championship two years ago, Spain has now showed that its system holds up even at the highest level. It has only lost two of its last 54 matches, including a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in its World Cup opener.
Still, surprisingly few teams have emulated the Spanish model.
"Not every nation can play this type of game," said Oliver Bierhoff, Germany's assistant coach. "You have to have the players for that (system)."
"Today you saw that Spain still has very excellent players who can keep the ball," he said. "We had a lack of precision in passing. ... They were today the better team."
Obviously, moving the ball around doesn't do you any good if you don't score. But Spain is blessed with a deadly striker in David Villa, with five goals in the tournament, and another in Fernando Torres, though he hasn't found his form in South Africa.
It also has one of the world's best goalkeepers in Iker Casillas, giving the outfield players the calm they need to patiently stick to their system, even when it doesn't yield immediate success.
Spain's commitment to its style of play is unwavering. Switzerland beat the Spaniards with a solid defense and rapid counterattacks. But del Bosque's team refused to change its ideas of how football should be played, even when it struggled in the quarterfinals against another defensive opponent, Paraguay.
"We live and die by those ideas," Iniesta said. "We don't know any other way to play. So we'll try to do the same in the final and hopefully we'll have the luck to win it."