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
No other team can match Spain’s ability to maintain possession
with precise, one-touch passes between constantly moving
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
“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
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.”