I will start this article by confirming, I do not think Spain are boring. I think the notion of accusing them to be is absurd. These players are masters of touch, technique and immense coolness under the most stressful of times.
But that has not stopped the world’s media as quickly declaring the reigning World and European champions as boring. Starting two out of their five Euro 2012 games with no recognised strikers on the field, del Bosque took the "football is a midfielder’s game" philosophy to a whole new level. While it has proved to be profitable, Cesc Fàbregas has scored the same amount of goals as Fernando Torres from the same number of starts, critics have been quick to claim Spain are now a parody of themselves.
For me I believe this tactic has highlighted the importance of Lionel Messi. It is well known Spain play in a style more similar to Barcelona than that of Real Madrid. But they are missing maybe (big emphasis on the maybe) the most important part of the team. Messi acts as a midfielder and as a striker with flawless symmetry. Picking up the ball from deep, Messi possess the skill, something Cesc lacks, and the confidence, something Torres lacks, to run past five or six defenders as if they weren’t even there.
He brings excitement to the game. Try and think back to the last time you saw a game, in which Messi featured in, and found it boring? It is a rarity and that’s because Messi is truly a one of a kind.
Sorry to bring in the Messi vs. Ronaldo debate but I do believe this is the biggest difference between the two greats. Messi is a team player, Ronaldo is an individual. Messi is happy to pass if he sees a teammate in a better position, Ronaldo is not. That may be the very reason why Messi continually pips CR7 to the Ballon d’Or.
Bringing it back to "boring" Spain. This tournament I think they have lacked pace. Iniesta, Silva and Cesc have routinely been used as the front three and neither of the three can really be described as pacey. Sure, substitutes Pedro and Navas have added speed but del Bosque has rarely used the pair and neither have started a match.
While both make great wingers, neither is suited to a central role. To play in the middle effectively you really need a high standard of pace and shooting ability. Something del Bosque has struggled to find this tournament. Of course if David Villa was fit, Spain wouldn’t have this problem. Although Villa plays on the left for Barcelona, being the all-time top scorer for the Spanish national team proves he is no stranger to the goals.
But he isn’t fit and is likely to see the 2014 World Cup as his one of last international tournaments. Meaning Spain will need to find a new number seven. For me I don’t think Cesc can fill that role, he works great as a supporting striker because of Messi but without the Argentine I think he struggles to get his shots away. Also Torres is unlikely to ever fully recover from this setback and regain his world class form. Meaning the impossible task of finding a Spanish Messi has begun.
Wanted: Player with immense technique, extraordinary vision and the ability to score goals from seemingly impossible positions. Must also be quick, Spanish and not afraid of the big games.
If only Leo had chosen Spain over Argentina…