Spain, if you’re the “Best Team In The World” according to Joachim Loew, why do you have to be so bloody boring?
Watching Spain’s 1-0 victory against Germany Wednesday, I was bored several times during the match. No, not because of the lack of goals. But because of Spain’s methodically slow tempo. Several times in the first half, they would walk around the pitch and pass the ball between themselves looking for an opportunity to spring the perfect pass. Even when they were winning and they were in Germany’s penalty box, they played keep-away instead of trying to score their second goal.
There’s no doubt that Spain has a team that possesses some of the best players in the world. And the depth that manager Bosque has in his team would make managers of other countries (Capello, anyone?) drool. And, Spain’s tactics Wednesday night were effective by continuing to pass and press Germany, looking for the opening that would give them the slight edge which would be enough to win the game. Still, I realize that Spain and its footballers are not paid to entertain but rather to win, but do they have to be so slow in their build-up?
I’m not expecting Barcelona, I mean Spain, to be as frenetic as a teenage boy in heat (i.e. which is what many Premier League clubs remind me of when they get the ball), but I do expect them to mix up their style of play now and again in the 90 minutes. Yes, there were several flashes of brilliance in this game where David Villa would hit a perfect flick-on, or Andres Iniesta would serve up the perfect pass. But, for crying out loud, give me a few minutes of continuous hang-on-to-the-edge-of-your-seat onslaughts on your opponent’s goal.
I realize that Spain’s tempo is the opposite of what we see in the Premier League. But I’d honestly rather watch a rollercoaster ride of a Premier League match with plenty of highs and imperfect soccer than 90 minutes of boring artistry from Spain. After watching Spain’s semi-final victory, the word that popped into my head to best describe the Spanish team was ‘artisans.’ They excel in their profession and produce a wonderful piece of art. But that art is best enjoyed in a highlight reel rather than suffering through 90 minutes of boredom and flashes of brilliance now and again.
Judging by Spain’s performance today, I don’t hold much hope for this Sunday’s World Cup Final. The one thing that Germany failed to do Wednesday was to get in the faces of Spain and stop them from playing the game they love to control. Germany failed to take control and put Spain on the back foot. And there’s no guarantee that the Dutch crack Spain’s veneer either.
The odd thing about the two finalists in the 2010 World Cup is that neither team has played as well as we had anticipated thus far in the tournament. Both have done incredibly well to make it to the final, but neither team has played the game of their lives that we know they’re capable of. An early goal for both sides on Sunday is one of our few hopes to get both teams to play outside of their shell so we can see end-to-end action. But if that doesn’t happen, we may witness a drab game from both sides as they look for the few chances that fall their way.