Spain’s 5-1 humiliation at the hands of Holland last night was a big shock but there have been warning signs for the world champions, including last years Confederations cup loss to Brazil. This game reminded me of another surprise result, Real Madrid’s 0-4 destruction of Bayern Munich in this season’s Champions League semi-finals. Ironically that game saw victory for a Spanish club side including Casillas and Ramos – two of the guilty parties yesterday – with Robben on the losing team on that occasion. However, it demonstrated how the passing philosophy of tiki-taka could be vulnerable to a more direct approach.
Here Robben was brilliant, running directly at the centre of Spain’s defence with pace and purpose. Ramos, Piquet and Casillas were the weak point in the Spanish side. All great players but somehow the combination didn’t work last night. Maybe Spain miss Puyol’s experience and organisation?
Casillas only played twice in the league last season. Of course he did feature in victorious Spanish cup and Champion’s League runs but this isn’t the same as regular, week in week out, league football. The Spanish keeper looked rusty, though he showed he still has great reactions as he made a string of saves late on to stop the score from getting even worse.
Van Persie had a great game after a disappointing season at Manchester United. His first goal, which gave the Dutch hope, showed both his confidence and his ability. His run to Louis van Gaal on the touchline demonstrated how much difference a manager can make to a player. On the one hand this makes me more disappointed Spurs missed out on van Gaal, on the other it makes me excited about Pochettino, who seems to have a similar knack for inspiring dedication in his players.
Van Gaal also showed the advantage of having a tactically astute manager, changing to a back five which both helped contain Spain’s dangerous forward line and released Holland’s fullbacks to supply Robben and van Persie. Pace, movement, a direct approach, fullbacks providing the width and a manager who inspires dedication in his players. Sounds a bit like someone else we know.
Daley Blind at left back was Holland’s other stand-out player. His runs forward and dangerous crosses were a key part of the Netherland’s success. Playing as a wing-back in a back five gave him the freedom to get forward frequently and to great effect. With Spurs desperate for a new left back and Pochettino’s system relying on the fullbacks to provide width in attack, surely Blind would make a great addition to the Tottenham team?
The Spanish now have a must win game against Chile which should be fascinating. Despite no longer being their manager, Chile are still heavily influenced by Pochettino’s mentor, Marcelo Bielsa. They may just have the direct, fast passing style to cause Spain’s defence more problems.
The rest of the World shouldn’t get too comfortable just yet. Four years ago, Spain lost their opening game in a group containing a dangerous Chile side and we all know how that ended.
Do you think this marks the end of Spain’s era of dominance? Should Spurs try to sign Daley Blind? Please let us know your opinion in the comments section below.