Wednesday, 7 July 2010
The Spanish Conundrum
Villa As Lone Front Man
Villa Left, Torres Up Top
This formation see Torres replacing Pedro and playing down the middle, which allows Villa to drift wide left. The benefits of this system is that Villa has looked unstoppable cutting in from the left. Some of his goals and performances have been brilliant and he has looked, alongside Forlan, as the best attacking player in the 2010 World Cup.
The midfield defensive system is not really affected as Iniesta is still there to make that impenetrable midfield four. The major change is now the lack of real width and pace down the flanks. Iniesta is a wonderful player, a personal favourite, but he loves to cut inside and dribble thorough the middle. He is also not electrically paced.
In this system Spain look as good on the ball but lack a real outlet for pace. However with Torres taking up the flak from the centre-backs this means that Villa is poised to float about and pick the ball up in dangerous, often unmarked, positions.
The main problem is that Torres has been woeful this tournament and looks tired and out of form. He does not bring much to the party other than allowing Villa to play - and in every game he has started so far Spain have looked far better when he has been taken off. I think after seeing the performance of Pedro against Germany Torres will be lucky to get picked as a starter in the Final. The question for Del Bosque is should he sacrifice Villa's performance for that of the team or should he bring a player in who can help his star striker score the goals to win it?
Another Option: Dropping Alonso
The only other option, in my opinion, is to drop one of the four four centre midfielders. Many people would call for that person to be Busquets but I believe he has been impeccable so far and offers the simple, easy option. He is no nonsense and often performs a brilliant shackling role on a playmaker like he did against Oezil last night.
Iniesta and Xavi are undroppable and as such in this suggestion Xabi Alonso is the fall guy. I am a huge fan of Alonso and think he is one of the World's best midfielders but I do think it is arguable that he is suplus to requirements in this Spanish side due to their quality in the middle.
In this system Spain would play with a system and team very similar to that which played in Euro 2008. The main changes would be Busquets for Senna and Pedro for Silva. As we saw in the Euro's this is a brilliant attacking team with goals all over the pitch. There is pace available, a buffer to keep the centre-backs busy, and Villa is able to drift in from his left-hand side position.
There is of course a draw back to this system, which I think Del Bosque identified in the Confederations Cup loss against the USA. If you have a team who are direct and quick there is a possibility that the midfield three will not have the same control over a game as the midfield four seen in the other formations. Del Bosque obviously decided that playing just one holding midfielder left him isloated and meant that teams could cause damage. He in effect left this formation and set up behind in South Africa in 2009. There is also the fact that none of the midfield four deserve to be dropped.
Del Bosque has clearly decided to select a team which is nominally protected by two defensive players in Alonso and Busquets. This means that the first two options will almost certainly be at the forefront of his mind leading up to the final. The wild card, whilst very effective in Euro 2008, might be seen as too attacking and perhaps open to domination, or at least parity, with the 5 in the middle in Holland's 4-2-3-1.
In some ways I am drawn to the last of these formations as I feel at times against Germany Spain looked like they could do with a man less in midfield and a more physical outlet upfront who allows Villa to play at his best. However seeing how the game developed and Spain's constant belief that they can score regardless of the minute on the clock I am pretty sure that the first two options are best for the current team. Keeping the ball has never been so much fun.