Sunday, July 1, 2012

A footballing lesson

So Spain triumph again.

Not just triumph, but crush an Italian side that in turn had crushed the fancied Germans the other side. Maybe a game too far for the azzurri, they looked tired and barely got into the game. But how on earth do you play against this team?

And team is the operative word. Great international sides of the past have often been associated with one great player: Pelé's Brazil, Maradona's Argentina, Cruyff's Holland, Zidane's France and so on. And sure, Xavi and Iniesta have stood out in particular. But what is striking about Spain is that they could probably put out two elevens that would give any other team a game. Villa breaks a leg? Never mind, there is Jordi Alba. Torres is out of form? Who cares, we'll just play 8 attacking midfielders and let Fabregas and Silva score the goals. Puyol injured? No worries, play Arbeloa alongside Piqué and Ramos. If Casillas ever got hurt, you would get Pepe Reina, maybe the best keeper in the Premiership. Arsenal's Arteta doesn't even make the squad. In the end, Italy's players expended so many resources to get to the final they had little energy left, Spain could rotate and give key players a break without missing a kick.

God knows what would have happened had England encountered this team.