What South Korea did to Germany, Russia did to Spain. This shows us that only class is not important to win the games, you need discipline too. A heartbroken game for me, for Spain and for Iniesta. It was his last world cup game and his last game for Spain. To park the bus for 90 minutes against a stronger team you need mental and physical strength because the way Spain was playing everytime the ball will start from Isco from left side then Jordi Alba, then the ball will get pass to Busquets or Ramos then Pique then Koke and then to Carvajal on righthand side, somewhere in between an offensive pass popup to Asensio or Silva and to Costa, they will not find any space or a blocked shot and the same process will start all over again.
“Not since 1966 has a goalkeeper made fewer saves in a World Cup.”
We have to understand here that Russian complete team have to shift from left to the right side of the pitch maintaining the compactness and a straight back 4 or 5 for successfully maintain an offside trap, and it is not easy. When you don’t have the ball and you just sit back and wait and absorb the wave of attacks one by one, it’s very frustrating and if not done collectively then it’s useless, any mistake from a single player and a single pass or cross will help Spain to beat that offside trap. Spain got caught in between two playing styles I think, Realmadrid style crosses and counterattack with fast offensive play with Barcelona style, pass around the opponent box and wait for an opening or any mistake for that one through pass. But we have to remember that for Barcelona and Real Madrid there is a common denominator which make them play this way or make them play their style and which will not work for Spain, ever. And that common denominators are GOATs. For both the team, Messi and Ronaldo make them work and make them the way they play. See last season example, till the time Ronaldo was not performing for Real Madrid they were not performing in league games and there was a moment when Toni Kross said after a game that Madrid needs to improve or else we will not even qualify for champions league position. Same goes for Barcelona, see the season 2013-14 when Gerardo Martino was the manager and the way Messi played that season that even Barcelona local fans booed Messi, Xavi and Puyol. For Spain, they need to find their way possession play is good and it won them Worldcup and two euro cups and that too they won all three back to back, 2008, 2010 and 2012. But they have to remember that that time they had those players which suited that playing style, players who can create from nothing or create a magic movement or that one magic run or that magic dead ball play. Players like Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso, Torres and Villa. These players were best suited for that possession-based play. Now they have only Isco who can play that way and Thiago too but I don’t know why but Thiago is not a big game performer. See the same in last year champion league semi-final against Real Madrid, which leads to is criticism in Brayan Munich.
“Common denominators are GOATs”
Two things didn’t work out for Spain first David de Gea. David de Gea, the way he played last season for Manchester United, the amount of saved he did, I still remember that Arsenal vs. ManU game where he did 14 save was crazy, it’s real life, not some Fifa game saves. In world cup in 4 games and 7 shots he conceded 6 goals and saved one. Not since 1966 has a goalkeeper made fewer saves in a World Cup. The second is, Julen Lopetegui, the ex-manager for Spain. Can you imagine a national coach getting fired just 1 day before the world cup starts and two days prior to the game again Portugal? That was crazy, all the tactics and plans will just fall apart and it’s not only till a manager would have studied all the other team and will make his own plan and tactics to handle them. the team attitude also depends on it how well the image is communicating and presenting his ideas. With a new manager coming into the picture, it wouldn’t be same for the team not for all. Especially for a team like Spain, with so much talent and more important thing, the club rivalry between both the Madrid clubs and Barcelona. Yes, of course, they all are mature enough and they are at the highest level of football both with club and country still the trust issue will come up. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and other clubs player in that Spain team will be thinking that Madrid players for sure would be knowing the club manager appointment prior to the announcement which would have favoured more Madrid players in that Spain 23 member team square. For example, not taking Sergi Roberto and taking players like Nacho and Odriozola will trigger that believe that Lopetegui favoured Madrid players because he knew that he is going to manage Real Madrid after the world cup.
What next for Spain now? last world cup exit in the group stage and this world cup in the round of 16. Spain needs to rebuild its identity with its playing style. It needs to figure out what it wants and from which players. If Spain doesn’t have players like Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso, Torres and Villa and by the next world cup in 2022 Ramos will be 36 and Pique will be 35, if he decides to continue, David Silva will be 36 and will not play for sure. Spain needs to find their own style and unique way. It’s not easy to move away from that successful era from 2008 – 2012 when they won two Euros and the world cup back to back. To find a different way other than Cruyff’s Total Football style it’s difficult but if Spain doesn’t produce players like that what is the use?