Spain must find balance to match Germany’s equilibrium

by Charlie Coffey

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

If, as expected, Torres is finally dropped tonight, Spain will be forced to crowd the midfield and fit a lot of talented central midfielders into a system that prevents them tripping over each others’ toes. There have many smooth, round pegs, but some must quickly adapt to square holes if Spain are to overcome Germany’s balanced side.

Spain’s midfield, while masters of possession football, have yet to regularly penetrate defences and have David Villa to thank for the fact they have broken through any at all. Spain won Euro 2008 because they had two strikers on form, and at the moment Fernando Torres is anything but.

While Alonso and Busquets have sat deep in a 4-4-2 it has forced Xavi, their best passer of a ball, to play further up the pitch (out of place) in a position that requires the pace and width he doesn’t offer. When they have switched to a 4-3-3 with Xavi dropping into the midfield, Villa has played on the left leaving the out-of-sorts Fernando Torres as the (so far rather blunt) point of attack. If Cesc Fabregas is the man to come in, after impressing in his cameo against Paraguay, where does he fit?

Another problem is that of Spain’s starting midfield four so far only Andres Iniesta has the necessary attributes to beat a man. Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Xabi Alonso are excellent passers of the ball but they lack the pace or collective width to get in behind defences, as shown by the fact that Switzerland managed to squeeze them out in their opening fixture despite being without the ball for long periods.

Germany, meanwhile, have a player for each position of their finely oiled 4-3-3 system. Sami Khedira sits, Bastian Schweinsteiger is, well, everywhere at once it seems, while Mesut Ozil has the creativity to play behind the front three, the ability to beat a man and a sharp eye for goal, as demonstrated with a great strike against Ghana. Lucas Podolski offers genuine width on the left, Miroslav Klose is happy to sit on the last man and usually they have Thomas Muller’s energy down the right.

But Muller isn’t playing, and herein lies Germany’s weakness in tonight’s game: an unfamiliar face in a settled starting eleven. It is here where Joachim Low will earn his corn. The choices? Another gamble on the youth policy that has worked so well so far and the selection of the talented but inexperienced young Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos, or the more experienced but more Piotr Trochowski, who is the more natural winger.

I personally would pick Kroos. He has already been earmarked for the number 10 shirt at Munich and is held in higher regard than Muller by many within the club. Despite his 20 years he has already made an impact at Bayern Munich and on loan at Leverkusen. During his debut for Munich, coming off the bench for the last 18 minutes, he provided two assists. On his UEFA cup debut he came on for nine minutes made one and scored with the last kick of the game. Oh, and those three assists were all for a certain Mr Klose.

Put simply both teams needs to make changes for tonight’s game, and these decisions may well determine who plays the Netherlands in Johannesburg on Sunday. Germany’s change is forced because of Muller’s two yellow cards, whereas Torres’ form means he has almost dropped himself. If Spain can find a balance, they have the players to beat Germany, whose equilibrium depends on how well their new right winger adapts.

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  • dexylongshot

    I said it would be an interesting decision whatever Lowe goes with on Monday, it really is a question of tactics this one. Both teams have a lost a game in this finals and i’m sure both bossmen have been having a shufti at the vids, unfortunately, they don’t play a jot like Serbia and and the Swiss.

    Maybe, Spain will go with Villa with Cesc just behind and fk of Torres all together. In 2008, Senna held on his jack with Xavi, Iniesta and Silva pinging it about in front and letting Cesc roam about when he used to come as sub (for Torres most of the time). Maybe he’ll try this with Busquests or Alonso as the holder. Personally, I’d like to see Llorente have a go at the Germans from set-pieces, he looked very good a few games back. It’s a tough one, will Germany have enough possession to cause problems. If they go a goal down, they won’t be allowed to use the counter attack that blew us and Diegos lot apart. I’ll be cheering spain anyway but forsee a draw and poss pens, wicked!

    Can nay wait!

  • stevie

    I think this may be one game to far for the Germans.

    Spain have to start playing well soon, and now is the time!

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