Blogs & Opinion


Guillem Balague:

Most Popular Posts:

Recent Comments:

Cem Takaci on Making his mark

"Hi Guillem, all of this hype sourounding jose mourinho and the saying that the wave is swinging for real madrid right now. But once Jose leaves and it does seem that he will if not this... " View all comments

Siyavuya Zamxaka on Awesome foursome

"wonderfull column as always...I think Madrid have a better chance of winning the Cup game in all of these 4 games. This is because Mourinho can play any system and not worry about how ... " View all comments

Style's better

Part seven - Spain now have belief to go with skill and tactics

Guillem Balague - Guillem Balague Posted 15th June 2012 view comments

Before Thursday night's Group C match between Ireland and Spain, both sides had a similar warm-up routine that ended up with five vs fives in reduced spaces.

Unfortunately for the boys in green, that was where the similarities ended, because right from the kick-off the two teams produced an entirely different brand of football altogether.

Ireland started pretty well. I spoke to Richard Dunne, by the way, after the match and he knew it was key to pressure Spain high up the pitch: to disrupt their build up - and also not to make mistakes or concede early. Unfortunately, the latter part of the Irish plan lasted all of four minutes and their game plan faltered.

Torres: showed he has his belief back

Torres: showed he has his belief back

Spain did at least three things very well: their movement off the ball was snappy and their passing was crisp; when they lost possession they applied the five second rule to win the ball back and Ireland couldn't cope with that suffocating pressure, giving the ball away too quickly; and thirdly, Fernando Torres has recovered his passion and his intensity. In a word: belief. All three elements are needed if Spain wants to go all the way in this tournament.

It's very hard to deny that what we are seeing is something very special. This current crop of Spanish players has the technical ability, the philosophy, the spirit and the depth of talent to repeat recent feats.

Guillem Balague
Quotes of the week

Mixed with those tactical solutions, it's still clear that this Spain is blessed with an amazing array of talent (just look at David Silva's game for proof of that); which means that when things aren't going to plan, there's always the possibility that a pinch of talent can sort it out.

Issue

I raised the striker / false striker issue with Dunne and he said that he felt that with Spain it didn't really matter. As a centre half he admitted that he doesn't like the fact that, without a designated centre forward, his role becomes complicated because it's less clear who he should be defending against, and he feels more comfortable with a striker up against him.

However, that doesn't mean that it was easier with Torres on the pitch because the Spanish striker kept trying to run in behind him and that forced Ireland to defend deeper, creating spaces in the midfield for the Spanish players to, well, basically enjoy themselves.

There was always at least one more Spanish midfielder than Irish counterpart near the ball and that numerical advantage in the middle can only be beaten with a very organised team.

The thing is with Spain, it is a style that they can and will reproduce in every game, but knowing what you're up against doesn't make it any easier to prepare for or defend against.

In the end, Ireland didn't pose the threat I thought they might before the match - perhaps the early goal wrecked their plans and resolve - but it was basically because they didn't see enough of the ball to do so.

A lot of teams find themselves in a similar position against Spain and it's very tough chasing the ball for 90 minutes, so don't blame the team for the performance.

What of Spain's prospects? If you could train luck, who could beat this team?

At the risk of sounding arrogant - something that I have warned others against previously - it's very hard to deny that what we are seeing is something very special. This current crop of Spanish players has the technical ability, the philosophy, the spirit and the depth of talent to repeat recent feats.

But as we know, that does not guarantee you a victory in this or any tournament. Germany anyone?

PS literally, as I type, I've just broken the news (via Twitter @guillembalague) confirming that Michael Laudrup has just been appointed the new manager of Swansea: what a great move for the club and I'm delighted that Laudrup has accepted. A very good move for both!

Guillem Balague's Euro Diary will become, along with added entries and interviews, an eBook at the end of the tournament.

For more info, check www.guillembalague.com

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Guillem Balague

Balague: Contenders not ready

Athletic, Sevilla and Valencia haven't yet got what it takes to crack the top three, says Guillem Balague....

Gary Neville

Neville blames Toon signings

Gary Neville says Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is suffering for failing to sign enough experience....

Graeme Souness

Souness mystified by Hart call

Should Costa start? Why was Hart dropped? Read Graeme Souness' Champions League preview....

Latest News RSS feeds

Pardew job safe for now

Sky sources understand that Alan Pardew’s job as manager of Newcastle United remains safe for the time being.

Sporting v Chelsea preview

Sporting Lisbon host Chelsea at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in the Champions League with both chasing a first Group G win.

Manchester City v Roma preview

Premier League champions Manchester City welcome Roma to the Etihad Stadium for their Champions League Group E clash.

Live transfer updates

Olivier Giroud and Mikel Arteta are both reportedly set for new Arsenal deals, while Craig Dawson commits to West Brom.

Di Maria vows to return home

Manchester United forward Angel di Maria has told Argentine radio that he plans to return to his home country one day.

Features

Champions League: Andre Villas Boas has made a strong start to his time in charge of Zenit St Petersburg

Champions League: Andre Villas Boas has made a strong start to his time in charge of Zenit St Petersburg

“If we win all nine matches, Zenit will be champions.” The words of Andre Villas Boas upon being named Zenit St Petersburg manager in March seemed wildly optimistic given the circumstances.

Champions League: Francesco Totti hoping to star for AS Roma against Manchester City at the age of 38 years old

Champions League: Francesco Totti hoping to star for AS Roma against Manchester City at the age of 38 years old

If the country’s island mentality dictates that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had to score four goals in an international friendly for Sweden before having his genius recognised in England, then Francesco Totti really is in trouble. The Roma icon’s record on English soil is bewilderingly bad.

Inter's 2010 Champions League side: Where are they now?

Inter's 2010 Champions League side: Where are they now?

Some have retired, others are back in South America. One has even found his way to the Indian Super League, while another has opted for the less exotic climes of Leicester. Here we remember Inter's Champions League winning squad from 2010...