17 Jun 2010


Spain tagged as favourite in this year World Cup was STUNNED by the Swiss in a group H match last night. I would like to add some comment on the team performance. Previous comment click here.

Team : Spain

Group : H

Played against : Switzerland (16th June 2010)

The Spaniard conquered the game and put together a great passing game earlier on. The Swiss had hardly kick a ball for the first 15 minutes! At some point, Spain possession of the ball is calculated at more than 70%. However, they failed to convert the possession into total domination where there was lacked of goal mouth action. The first half action continued in similar fashion and the score stayed at 0 - 0.

Spain came out for the 2nd half full of determination and with purpose. More and more pressing to the Swiss goal but to the Swiss credit, they held their nerved and defends in number. The moment of the goal is a 'route one tactic'. The excellent goalkeeper, Diego Benaglio, kicked the ball high up field and met by Eren Derdiyok, who, with a slice of luck, took the ball pass Puyol and towards Spain goal. Iker Casillas got on the way of Derdiyok's attempt on goal, but the ball fell into Gelson Fernandes path. His shot was brilliantly blocked by Pique but bounced of the defender awkwardly in the penalty box. Gelson Fernandes took a gamble and reacted the fastest to poke the ball into the empty net. GOAL !

Spain 0 - 1 Switzerland, although the scoreline is hard to believe.. the match ended with the Spaniard ponder how on earth did they'd lost that match!

In my opinion, the problem with Spain is too much passing outside the penalty box, and lacked of goalmouth action. The choice of using David Villa as a lone striker had not worked out the way Del Bosque intended it to be. I believed, they should have Llorente (because Torres was not 100%) partnered with David Villa. Llorente would cause the Swiss defender problem in the air and allow Villa some space to be exploited. Instead, Del Bosque had choose David Silva, Villa's teammate at club level, to roaming in the 'hole'.

The vulnerability of Spain's defends is always a suspect. The team is full of stars, but they lacked calibre in the centre of the defend - Puyol & Pique are not the best of centreback partnership around. They have Machena and Albiol in reserved, but, I don't really rate both of them highly. Puyol & Pique choosen ahead of Machena & Albiol possibly due to the fact, they played together at club level.

What when wrong ?

1) Tactic. Spain should play a 4-4-2 setup and provide David Villa with a strike partner in order to opened up some space for him. Since Torres is not 100%, they should go with Fernando Llorente instead. He will cause some problem to the Swiss defends on the air and the gap would be Villa's to exploit. Del Bosque had choose David Silva instead to roam across the hole behind the main striker. The 4 in midfield should be Busquets (defensive midfielder), Xavi (midfielder - playmaker), Iniesta (left midfield) and David Silva (right midfield). Xabi Alonso should be left on the bench (although his performance is actually no that bad).

2) Passing game. They had over-done it ! The majority of the passing game were on the midfield area orchestrated by Xavi, Alonso & Iniesta. The pass more to the sideways rather than forward where it can hurt the Swiss guard for opportunity on goal. Having said that, afterall, they only have David Villa to aim for in the box and he's not the best of a header. In addition, the Swiss penalty area already being crowded by the excellent, well discipline Swiss defender and there is hardly space to maneuver. The Spaniard should shoot on goal more often to put some nervous moment into the opposition defender.

This is not the end of Spain though. There are two more, certainly, win-able games against Honduras & Chile. They have no choice now, they have to win both games if they are to be the first Spaniard to win the World Cup. It is time for Spain to step up and live up to the expectation.


Note : Hats off to the Swiss..

Picture source : ESPNSoccernet & ESPNStar

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