“Boring”, “Tedious”, “Dull”.
Just some of the nonsense used to describe Spain at the World Cup. Reading blog responses and fans forum comments during the tournament, it’s clear that many British fans still don’t enjoy the Spanish approach to the game. Clearly keeping possession, dictating the pace of a match and ultimately, winning, isn’t for everyone.
Despite losing their opening game, Spain are deserved world champions. They were the best team in the competition and their ability to retain the ball meant they were able to be patient, controlling the tempo of games, and often wearing the opposition down in the second half.
However, some fans don’t enjoy a side being able to hold the ball. Perhaps that’s down to the type of football that fans in the UK are used to watching. Chris Waddle recently described English Premier League matches as being like “a basketball league – you attack then they attack – but other leagues don’t play like that.” As a result, many fans are not used to the slow approach of foreign teams in domestic, European and international matches. Go to any match around Britain and you’ll hear shouts to get ball up the pitch.
So how should Spain have played then? Perhaps it would be more entertaining to have Puyol or Pique bringing the ball out from the back, before knocking a hopeful punt downfield into open space. Then Villa and Torres chase the ball down, hoping for a mistake from the centre-back. If one of the strikers wins possession they hold it up, waiting for a lung-busting run from Xavi or Iniesta. Yeah that would work. With that approach Spain would have been home before England.
One criticism that could be levelled at Spain is that they didn’t score enough goals in South Africa, with only eight during the whole tournament. That however, was largely down to opposing sides getting plenty of men behind the ball, and the Spanish failing to convert many of the chances they created.
It seems that some people fail to see the link between keeping possession of the ball and waiting for an opportunity, and successful results. The only thing boring, tedious or dull about Spain is that generally, they keep on winning.