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:

Paul Merson

Still in the frame

Paul Merson says Everton's top-four bid and Man City's title hopes won't be derailed on Wednesday....

Guillem Balague

Making it for Messi

Barca and Madrid are in it but the best side in Spain isn't in the Copa del Rey final, says Guillem Balague....

Chris Kamara

Twists and turns

Kammy rounds-up the weekend talking points and says nothing is decided at the top or bottom....

Latest News RSS feeds

Wenger hails important win

Arsene Wenger hailed the importance of Arsenal's victory over West Ham as his side came from behind to win 3-1.

Allardyce frustrated by loss

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce admitted his frustration at his side's inability to hold their lead in the loss at Arsenal.

Gundogan signs new deal

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has signed a new deal which ties him to the Bundesliga club until June 2016.

Villa suspend backroom duo

Aston Villa suspend assistant boss Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa pending investigation.

Podolksi: We must shift focus

Arsenal's Lukas Podolski hopes his side will qualify for the UEFA Champions League - but is wary of their fixture list.

Features

Sky Sports Scout, in association with Wyscout, reports on Swiss striker Josip Drmic

Sky Sports Scout, in association with Wyscout, reports on Swiss striker Josip Drmic

Sky Sports Scout is our exciting feature where we scour the globe, in partnership with Wyscout, looking out for the best talent and bring you a report on what we find.

Hillsborough tragedy: What they said

Hillsborough tragedy: What they said

Football across the country will today remember the Hillsborough tragedy. We recall the reflections of some of those affected by the disaster at the FA cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest 25 years ago.

Whelan remembers

Whelan remembers

Former Liverpool player Ronnie Whelan talks to Geoff Shreeves about the Hillsborough Disaster.