How good is the current Spanish team?

by admin

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Better than Brazil?

Spain set a world record of 15 consecutive wins after beating South Africa 2-0 to reach the Confederations Cup semis.

Their latest victory means Spain have equalled Brazils all time record of 35 matches without defeat, (1993 and 1996). But are they better than that Brazilian team? How good are they? How good could they be? World Cup winners? Even better than Brazil 1970?

As long as I’ve been watching football, the conventional wisdom was that, for all the quality and skill in the Spanish squad, the national team just couldn’t cut it at major tournaments.

I expected more of the same at Euro 2008. They’ll bottle it at some stage, surely? But they didn’t. Luis Aragones concocted a game plan of possession football mixed with clinical efficiency– an almost German ability to shift through the gears at the right time and refuse to be beaten. The innate totalling ability (always a hallmark of Spanish teams) now had a platform to perform on, as the Spanish engine room had grown some balls.

Xavi and Andres Iniesta know how to play football. If they concede possession (Which they don’t) Marcos Senna or Xabi Alonso will win the ball and give it back to them.

And then you have the strikers.

We all know how good Fernando Torres can be, but the boy that stands next to him is, whisper it, even better. David Villa’s goal against South Africa gives him an international strike rate of 31 goals in 47 games (and 18 in 17 since the start of Euro 2008). He is second behind Raul in the all time Spanish scoring charts and doesn’t look like slowing down.

And if these fellas don’t do the business any number of young starlets (Bojan, Juan Mata, Fernando Llorente) would fancy their chances given a chance. In fact, they have youth coming through for all positions, all of the highest quality (Fabregas, Raul Albiol, Sergi Busquets).

And the future’s bright. I imagine the odds on Spain winning the world cup in 2010 shorten daily. The team that won Euro 2008 won’t be overly different. If anything, key players will be more experienced.

I can’t help feeling we are witnessing the development of something truly memorable. Not many other nations would be expected to beat them. (Brazil maybe, Italy at a push. England? No chance). And what’s more, they play with some serious style.

If Spain win the World Cup in 2010, I imagine a whole generation of football fans will come to class this team as ‘the best ever’. And come Saturday, it might be statistically correct, too!

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  • Matt Quinn

    I fancied Argentina for the world cup— but with Maradona as coach and Riquelme not involved, they look fairly poor.
    Both Italy and Brazil currently have teams that fail to inspire or excite and the African nations dont appear to be as strong as usual.
    France and Portugal are also struggling at the moment….

    So overall, i dont see anyone challenging Spain for the World Cup. Their collection of midfielders alone should install them as favourites…. Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, David Silva, Cazorla, Fabregas, Senna, Mata, De La Red.

  • Darren

    I can’t see beyond Spain, unless they face a Greece of 2004. Of course the Germans are also a treat, god knows why, every tournament they turn up with the worst German team of all time yet make the semi finals at least, England take note and learn!

    It’s a shame the 36th game isn’t the Confederations Cup final, that would give a meaningless game a real edge with Brazil wanting to keep their record.

    Romania & Northern Ireland were the last teams to actually beat Spain over 3 years ago.

  • Iain

    If Spain did get to the world cup final, We could probably pick the team here and now (injuries and suspensions permitting;
    GK – Casillas
    RB – sergio Ramos
    CB – Carlos Puyol
    CB – Carlos Marchena / Raul Albiol
    LB – Joan Capdevila (weak link IMO)
    Mid – Xabi Alonso / Marcos Senna
    Mid – Xavi
    Mid – Iniesta
    Mid – Silva / Cazorla (depending on formation
    CF – David Villa
    CF – Fernando Torres

    Looks quite good to me – and no room for little Cesc. Or Alvaro Arbeloa…………

  • dexylongshot

    I’ve been watching them in South Africa, I can’t really remember a better national team in the last 20 years, only Brazil around 2002-2004 come close for me, poss France a few years earlier but I think this Spanish team would nail them both. Capdevila is probably the weak link being attacked but he has been getting forward at will in this tournament and chucking plenty of balls in the box.
    I just hope Fabio can devise his strategy for next summer so we can whoop em in the final (or pray they get a few midfield injuries and somebody flukes it and sees them of).

  • Patrick

    This Spain team is very very good but remember that France also won the ’98 World Cup and the ’00 Euros back to back with a team containing Zidane, Henry, Pires, Petit, Desailly, Deschamps and Djoukaeff amongst others and they were never lauded as much as this. Spain’s acheivement of a tournament and a wins record cannot allow them to be considered great just yet.

    Mentally the Spanish seem a lot stronger than in recent years but there is still almost a year to go until the World Cup kicks off and there is a lot of football to be played between now and then. I actually fancy Brazil to beat Spain in the final on Saturday. The movement of Kaka and Luis Fabiano will cause Spain problems. They are certainly a cut above the usual challengers at the moment but there’s a danger of peaking too soon (as South Africa regualrly proved for those of you who watch cricket). I believe the fact that others will have caught up a bit and that it is a knockout after the group stages will make it very tough for them to live up to this billing and win the tournament.

  • Matt Quinn

    I take it all back.

    Spain are the perennial bottlers.

    Thumped 2-0 by 10 man USA. Theyre rubbish. Lucky to get past group stages in next World Cup. Come on Engerland. The World Cup is ours.

  • Darren

    just got in from playing a cheat at Les Dennis, another story. The US and A beat Spain? What a shame up!

    That means the U S and A are the best team in the world and favourites to win the World Cup, way to go, awesome! Soccerball rules, footstrike, 2 to zero

  • Paul H-S

    The Beckham factor has obviously worked, the MLS is obviously the greatest league in the World and the Americans will soon be able to add another “world” crown to their list of acheivements (admittedly all other achievements of “world” recognition have been in sports where USA is the only country competiting but I thought I would overlook this as it didn’t fit in with the point I wanted to make… I believe the Daily Mail has a similar stance when writing stories?)

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