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Reasons against Spain winning World Cup 2010

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After the Champions League Final festivities have settled, it’s now back to the anticipation and perhaps anxiety towards the long awaited World Cup 2010. Recently, I tried to do a survey on a sample of football fans. Due to mainly financial, resources, and time constraints, I only managed to survey 10 football fans. I simply asked each and everyone of them which country he/she thinks is going to win the World Cup. Amazingly, 9 out of 10 answered Spain as the country that is going to continue their recent supremacy in the world and grab the famous Jules Rimet trophy in South Africa, while the odd one out voted Brazil as the winner. This shows how Spain is seemingly a shoe-in to win this year’s edition of the World Cup and that the roles of the other teams in the competition is reduced to basically to make up the numbers of 32 participants. But to them, Spain is the only one in the competition, and their triumph is a given. Is it that easy? Despite the overwhelming response favoring Spain, I believe even if I had increased the sample size to 100, I would still get at least 90 responses favoring Spain. But I beg to differ, in fact, I don’t think Spain is capable of winning this one and as what I have been mentioning many times, I am tipping Argentina to win this one. The following are the reasons why Spain will not win this edition of the World Cup.

The very first reason is also the most obvious. Spain is simply the overwhelming favorites to win the competition. World Cup history suggests that the overwhelming favorites are always knocked out earlier than expected. Take for example World Cup 2002, in which France, the then defending champions and also just like Spain right now, had just won Euro 2000 two years earlier, and there was no reason why the all conquering French team at that time not to add one more star above the cockerel emblazoned on the France shirt. However, we knew that France didn’t even make it out of the Group Stage, and yeah, they did not even score a single goal. In World Cup 2006, Brazil was the overwhelming favorites. Surely a team containing the legendary Ronaldo, the then world beating Ronaldinho, as well as all conquering Kaka won’t go wrong and simply wipe everything on their path. But they were knocked out early, despite showing an attractive and daring attacking football in a 4-2-4 formation. Spain is now having that favorite tag. Everyone expects them to wipe anything and everything. They are said to play hypnotizing and extra-terrestrial football, and that even gravity might be defied by the mostly Barcelona players in the Spain squad.

To be fair to Spain, I personally believe that Spain will indeed play an extra-terrestrial, gravity defying football, and also wipe everything and anything on their path, but only for the three matches in the Group Stage. I dare say that they will simply swat aside Chile, Switzerland, and minnows Honduras and they might even score 20 goals and concede none, and obtain 9 points out of the available 9. At that time, even the most nationalistic Catalonian would be waving the Spanish flag. But everything will be over as soon as the last 16 kicks off. When they meet the more industrious, rigid, and unorthodox teams such as Italy, France, and Argentina respectively, they will be defeated with a skimpy scoreline, perhaps 1-0 or even in a penalty shoot-out. As usual, the tradition of Spain peaking too early in a big competition will not leave them. Not even the Euro 2008 victory could erase this. Yes, some might argue that winning the European Cup is much harder than winning the World Cup, but we have to argue again that in the last 16 and/r quarter finals, most if not all the teams left are likely to be the household European names and that’s when the going gets tough, and the tough gets going. The lightning won’t strike twice, if the 2009 Confederations Cup is of any indication.

The second reason picks up where I left off in the previous paragraph about how the Spanish team would falter when they meet the teams that play the anti-thesis of the kind of football that they are playing such as France, Argentina, and Italy as mentioned. Since the bulk of the Spanish squad are Barcelona players, and that their game is heavily reliant on the performances of these Barcelona men, Spain’s game in the World Cup will be more or less a carbon copy of what Barcelona has been doing in the recently concluded season. Thus, it would be more than valid to draw comparisons with the Champions League, more specifically the second leg of the semi final tie of Barcelona against the eventual champions Internazionale. In this match, although many would argue that Barcelona won this match, it was shown to millions of audiences all over the world that the aforementioned slick passing, gravity defying Barcelona game can be ground to a halt by simply “Parking the bus in front of the goal”. There’s no doubt that teams who are drawn against Spain, especially in the latter stages of the competition would want to take a leaf or two from Jose Mourinho’s book to stop Spain, and they might just be successful. If it is a top team such as Argentina or France, they will lose by a sucker punch goal from a swift counterattack, but if it is an underdog such as the USA or Serbia, then expect them to be defeated either in the extra time or in the penalty shoot-out. Either way, Spain is going to be stopped by using Mourinho’s successful tactics in the Champions League.

Lastly, with all their swashbuckling Barcelona carbon copy football, they sorely lack a credible Plan B to negotiate past the aforementioned time period starting from the last 16 when the tough gets going, and the going gets tough. This is where their Barcelona style of play will prove to be their undoing. Referring again to the previous paragraph in which they are faced with rigid and even anti-football tactics, they have to find a way out. Otherwise, they will just continuously passing around and no matter how they try, the burly opposition players will simply repel every single thing and simply toss the pint sized Spanish players away. I mean, what chance do small and short players such as Fabregas, David Villa, David Silva, Iniesta, Xavi and basically every single Spain players except for Puyol have against burly defensive players such as William Gallas, Walter Samuel, or even Branislav Ivanovic? I would say chances are it would be like seeing a group of 15 year olds being pushed away by pub bouncers to prevent them from entering. This problem is compounded by the exclusion of the relatively big sized Daniel Guiza, and I believe he is a better target-man to ram through the “parked bus” than Fernando Torres, their closest to a targetman. Without the unorthodox route one football, the kind of Inter’s first goal in the final against Bayern Munich through a strong targetman Diego Milito, even if Casillas decides to lob the ball all the way to the opposition penalty area, the aforementioned burly players will just head the ball away and swat the small Spanish players away. They will not find a way through until the opposition scores a goal against them or draw them out in a siege until the lottery of the penalty shoot out (for the case of matches against underdogs).

Thus, with all of the reasons above, I don’t see Spain winning this World Cup. People might still try to argue at this time using my comparison to the Spanish team with Barcelona in which they might present me with some matches in which Barcelona still win matches against teams, mostly the weaker teams in La Liga who put them on a siege by “parking the bus in front of a goal”, but no matter what, Barcelona still wins, mainly through last minute goals. But I bet anybody trying to argue along that line forgets one big thing. Even if the Spanish team is a carbon copy of Barcelona, it is just that. They have to remember that there’s no Leo Messi to bail them out during those situations as “The Flea” is playing for Maradona’s Argentina, the very team which might knock them out from the competition. I doubt Fernando Torres, David Villa, or Fabregas are able to do the kind of individual bailing out that Messi is doing for Barcelona, such as how Messi once dribbles past whole squads to score a brilliant goal or even his own “Hand of God” goal against Getafe to snatch victory from the jaws of draw.

Written by cp

25/05/2010 at 17:22

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