Spain is a football powerhouse globally when you want you to list the foremost nations in the international football game. Possession based football is a philosophical ethic entrenched in the modern Spanish football culture that has been adopted by many clubs and countries over the last 10 years.
Spain is notorious for passing the ball into the opposition net and wearing down teams by greedily seizing the ball. It is fair for teams to prepare 22 players and 8 substitions when they want to play Spain based on the exhaustive nature of the game. That or park a double-decker bus in your penalty box abandoning open play to the Spaniards.
Between 2008 and 2012, Spain were the monarchs of international football. The ease at which they brushed teams outside make them tactically miles distant from the opposition. Coaches got offers of bonuses for snatching a point from games against Spain.
The way the Spanish team held gregariously to the ball in the famed tiki taka meant teams could only watch in amazment.
Then there was the Vincent Del Bosque era.
In that time, you could be forgiven to wear a Spanish football team jersey for a professional job interview for the respect and pride the jersey commanded. Then the nerve of the Spanish national team was the extraterrestrial combo of an impregnable Xavi Hernandez, an ingenious Iniesta at his prime, the cunning Busquets and the industrious Xabi Alonso.
That collection of geniuses made the game hard to grab by oppositions as the latter yearned desperately for the referee to blow the ending whistle in such laborious encounters.
The end of an era
Good things surely come to an end and eventually age caught up with the perishable core of the Spanish game. The creative engineers in the cockpit of the team lost their spark to age and the team started faltering. Xavi retired from international football owing to ageing bones after a dazzlingly decorated career.
A leader in the back in the form of Puyol was also gone. Xabi Alonso would follow suit and the once blistering Iniesta had been shaved off a large part of his genius, having been robbed of his prime by age. The new Spanish team started faltering in the exit of its heroes.
The cracks in the team became conspicuous and in no time glaring. Teams have designed a strategic mechanism to curtail the possession game of the Spanish football. With the destructive edge now blunt, the new Spanish team in all the vehemence of holding the ball, were like barking dogs that don’t bite.
They could not blow away teams anymore, and teams would speed aggressively on the counter against a Spanish defence bitterly missing the ferocity and leadership of Puyol. Defeats started coming in. Spain infamously crashed out of the World Cup, battered by Brazil in the Confederations cup followed by a disastrous demise in the Euro 2016.
After being outmuscled by a fighting Italian team inspired by Antonio Conte, it was official that the Spanish golden era was over. Expectations crashed to the relief of oppositions so bad that Vincent Del Bosque had to throw in the towel and step aside.
Then came in Lopeitegui. In no time we started seeing a revival of the Spanish team. While proven experienced wizards like Xavi were gone, new apprentice-wizards started springing up. Up came Isco, Morata, Atletico’s Saul Niguez, Morata and now even Asensio and Ceballos. Spain has been making the headlines cautiously.
A loud announcement of their readiness to take back their thrones as kings of international football was in the 3-0 demolition of Italy in the latest World Cup qualifiers.
Italy had no excuse as Ventura’s team were completely outclassed and drubbed. Isco regular made a pizza of Verrati in the midfield war. Bellotti in the attack was completely isolated save one thunderous strike at De Gea. By the end of the match, Italy prominently Word Cup favourites were panting for breath.
Spain would follow up the master class with another fearsome 8-0 destabilization of Liechtenstein. In face of all these rare heroics, can we safely say Spain’s golden era is already coming back?
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