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 Post subject: Viva España
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 6:43 pm 
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What do you do when your defenders and strikers aren't up to much? Play a team full of midfielders, of course. Patty(TINH) thinks Spain might go striker-less against Italy...

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"Better late than never, I suppose," was perhaps Vicente Del Bosque's only positive thought as the Spain manager saw the bulk of his squad saunter into the national training camp with their roller-bags a third of the way or so through the team's disjoined preparations for Euro 2012.

The inspired scheduling of the Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao last Friday, the day before the team's first - and fairly useless really - friendly against Serbia meant that Spain were very late in the day in knowing their 23-man squad for the Euros, not ideal for an outfit already missing two key players in David Villa and Carles Puyol.

It's a squad that it still very strong when typed out prettily on paper, and it's a group that would most teams would gladly give all of Peter Crouch's limbs and a bit of Jermaine Pennant for, but contains an awful lot of unknowns in terms of form, motivation and how they will perform on the pitch in the group with Italy, Ireland and Croatia, never mind the rest of the rounds.


Goalkeepers:
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Pepe Reina (Liverpool)
Víctor Valdés (Barcelona)

Zero surprises here. The same three goalkeepers as the World Cup, all of whom should have at least 50 caps for their country, but two of them happen to be playing the game at the same time as the completely undroppable Iker Casillas, who must be in a fairly chirpy mood having captained his club to the league title, to add to a World Cup and European Championship picked up from the past four years.


Defenders:
Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid)
Juanfran (Atlético Madrid)
Raúl Albiol (Real Madrid)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Gerard Piqué (Barcelona)
Javi Martínez (Athletic Bilbao)
Jordi Alba (Valencia)

And this is where the big sighs of sadness and despair begin for the Spanish fan with the defence being the biggest moustache-twitching headache for Vicente Del Bosque. Carles Puyol is out after requiring knee surgery, despite playing football still as sprightly and springy as his perm. Gerard Piqué, his supposed defensive partner for Spain, has been lousy, out of shape, distracted and dropped for much of the campaign for Barcelona.

However, for want of anyone else, Piqué is set to start in the centre of the defence, alongside either Sergio Ramos, who happily for Del Bosque has been outstanding for Madrid this season, or Javi Martínez, who has been sort of solid for Athletic Bilbao after being moved into the back four from his previous midfield berth.

Del Bosque may prefer to begin with the Basque stopper alongside Piqué to reinforce the right flank due to Arbeloa not being all that good this season. Even the full-back's consistency, which José Mourinho once praised to the high heavens, has been lacking.

Jordi Alba is set to be first choice at left-back after reasonable form with Valencia and will add a bit of width to Spain's gameplan, which could be lacking on the opposite flank. Albiol and Juanfran? Only to be used in emergencies. Dire, dire emergencies.


Midfielders:
Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)
Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona)
Santi Cazorla (Málaga)
Jesús Navas (Sevilla)
Cesc Fàbregas (Barcelona)
David Silva (Manchester City)

This is where Spain are once again exceptional across the board in terms of variety and talent but are likely to start with the familiar midfield trio of Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Busquets, although the former is struggling to play one game a week at the moment, never mind two, due to age and injury.

This might see the Real Madrid playmaker taking over in the creative department for some matches (or some spells) and the wonderful attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla getting a go - a dynamo of a player and a footballer who single-handedly put Villarreal and then Málaga into the Champions League places in the past two seasons.

To make things tricky for those looking to pigeonhole players into handy positions, David Silva may end up as the team's main striker in a false number nine role, Iniesta will probably be pushed into the front three whilst Cesc Fabregas may end up spending much of the tournament parked on the bench. Navas to be used in tandem with Fernando Llorente when Plan A has failed and the 'put it in the mixer, get your head on it' tactical approach is required. Probably with ten minutes to go against a dogged Italy.


Strikers:
Juan Mata (Chelsea)
Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)
Fernando Torres (Chelsea)
Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla)
Pedro (Barcelona)

It will be quite, quite impossible to predict a steady front three for Spain with Del Bosque likely to opt for Iniesta and two others for all the games in the absence of David Villa and anyone who is in fantastic form. David Silva and Juan Mata could well be chosen for those games when possession, guile and patience are required, although Pedro has finally hit some end-of-season form, just in time.

Llorente's performances dipped a little towards a tough end of season for his club and he will be deployed when brute force is required more than finesse, or if a centre-back pairing is lacking in height. Despite admitting doubts himself, Fernando Torres has made it into the squad at the expense of Roberto Soldado, and it's probably the right decision.

Although Torres is apparently not in the best of form these days, he's a footballer who has performed at and delivered in some fairly big games over the years - rather handy for an off-the-bench impact player, which is set to be the role for Torres. The Valencia striker Soldado - although unlucky not to be travelling - has missed the cut for the opposite reasons, due to being a bit of a no-show in some big club games.

Possible starting XI v Italy: Casillas; Ramos, Piqué, Martínez, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Xabi Alonso; Iniesta, Silva, Mata.

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 Post subject: Re: Viva España
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:36 pm 
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Dream teams have to be confirmed in 2 hours. There is only one player i'm not happy with and that's Silva. Do we think he starts for Spain?

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 Post subject: Re: Viva España
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:39 pm 
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I think he'll start on the right of the front 3.

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idontfeardeath wrote:
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But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


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 Post subject: Re: Viva España
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:18 pm 
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idontfeardeath wrote:
Dream teams have to be confirmed in 2 hours. There is only one player i'm not happy with and that's Silva. Do we think he starts for Spain?

no....

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 Post subject: Re: Viva España
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:20 pm 
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I think they will start him as the striker in the first game as he can play the Messi "false 9" role that suits the Barcelona players who dominate the midfield positions.

If it doesn't work though they'll quickly change it.


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 Post subject: Re: Viva España
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:15 am 
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Spawny won that discussion above!

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Watching Spain play football is like watching a porno where the woman takes an hour and ten minutes to take of her shoes.


...pretty much sums up my feelings towards Spain's football.

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 Post subject: Re: Viva España
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:39 pm 
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Serbinator wrote:
Spawny won that discussion above!

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Watching Spain play football is like watching a porno where the woman takes an hour and ten minutes to take of her shoes.


...pretty much sums up my feelings towards Spain's football.

...pretty much sums up my feelings towards shoes in pornos

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 Post subject: Re: Viva España
PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:22 am 
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In Their Defence

According to friend of F365 Antony Kastrinakis in his Sun intro: 'Spain's sensational success is not based on their glorious passing game but on probably the best defence in football history.'

We'll stop you there before the remaining 37 paragraphs of your article, Antony, to say that 'no, actually Spain's sensational success is based almost entirely on their glorious passing game'. Thanks. As you were.

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 Post subject: Re: Viva España
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:02 am 
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Taken for granted by Real Madrid & undervalued by Spain - but it's time to recognise the brilliance of Del Bosque

The Salamanca-born coach has already led La Roja to a first-ever World Cup win and can make it an unprecedented treble of titles on Sunday. Surely he now deserves more credit



By Ben Hayward - Goal.com


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Vicente Del Bosque, Spain - Getty Images



For all its glory, coaching Spain can be a thankless task. Win and the players are the heroes; triumph by a narrow margin and it's just not good enough; lose and it's all your fault.

Go down to Italy on Sunday in the final of Euro 2012 and Vicente del Bosque will be the villain; win and perhaps, finally, he will be accepted by the masses. But don't hold your breath.

The Salamanca-born coach, it is often noted, took over an already successful side. This team, many still believe, was built by former Spain coach Luis Aragones, the man who led La Roja to glory at Euro 2008. Indeed, not only did Del Bosque inherit a team of winners, but he also benefited from a golden generation guided to glory at Barcelona by Pep Guardiola. All of the pieces were in place. For putting them all together, however, he is given little credit.

Quote:
IN NUMBERS Vicente del Bosque with Spain

2 Perfect qualifying campaigns, with 18 victories en route to the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012

8 As well as the World Cup, Del Bosque claimed seven major trophies at Real Madrid between 1999 and 2003

13 Del Bosque won his first his 13 matches in charge to set a new record before losing 2-0 to United States

18 Since losing to Switzerland in the opening match of the 2010 World Cup, Spain are unbeaten in 18 competitive matches

60 Del Bosque has won 50 of his 60 matches in charge and lost just six, four of which were friendlies

145 Goals scored in his reign, which will now extend until the 2014 World Cup




Del Bosque was always going to be in for a bumpy ride. But it started smoothly, with a record-breaking 13 straight wins after assuming control in the summer of 2008. Then came an unexpected upset: defeat to the United States in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup in June 2009. Alarm bells rang, criticism came. The honeymoon period was over.

But back to more meaningful matters, Del Bosque steered Spain to South Africa with a perfect 10 victories as La Roja became only one of a handful of sides in history to qualify with a flawless run of results. Optimism, again, was high, but the biggest tests were ahead.

Switzerland, Honduras and Chile awaited in what looked a simple sector for Spain in South Africa, but the favourites failed at the first hurdle, somehow succumbing to an ultra-defensive Swiss side. And the Durban disaster meant there was now no margin for error - Del Bosque's men simply had to win their two group games.

The mood was sombre and sad - this was not part of the plan. Del Bosque assumed the role of father figure; deep down he was hurting more than most - mortified, miserable and morose. But he assured his players that in the morning, everything would be different. And it was. The savvy Salmantine retired to his room, watched a DVD of the game and slept on it.

At breakfast, the mood was upbeat. Many of the Spain squad had watched the game too. There had been little wrong with their performance and there was a real belief that things would come good. And they did, of course, although a 2-0 win over Honduras in La Roja's second match failed to silence the critics, either.

The biggest debate of all concerned the 'double pivot' formed by Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso. The latter was now a seasoned performer in the national side, but did Spain really need two deep-lying midfielders? After all, they had the ball almost all of the time anyway. But Del Bosque - a stylish midfielder himself in the 1970s and 80s who represented Spain on 18 occasions and scored one goal for La Roja - in his home city of Salamanca - was not for turning. And the former Madrid coach played the paternal part once again, defending the Barcelona midfielder, very much a new kid on the block at that point and still only 21.

"If I was a player [now], I would like to play like Busquets," Del Bosque told the press after questions arose about the much-maligned midfield pairing. The message was clear: this is how we will play. And perhaps even more importantly, Busquets' crumbling confidence was handed the biggest boost of all. It was a motivational masterstroke.

Quote:
"We have been looking for a [playing] style for our whole lives and now that we have found one, and it is successful, we criticise it

- Vicente del Bosque Image



Spain never looked back, beating Chile and then, one by one, seeing off Portugal, Paraguay, Germany and Netherlands to make history with a second straight success in major competitions and a first World Cup win for the Iberian nation. Dismissed just weeks earlier as a tactical novice, Del Bosque was now the toast of the town.

He had another title, the biggest one of all - the World Cup. Indeed, his is quite a collection: at Real Madrid Del Bosque led the Santiago Bernabeu side to two Champions League crowns and two Ligas among a total of eight successes (nine if you include the Copa Iberoamericana he claimed as caretaker coach in 1994) before his ridiculous removal in 2003, a decision from which it can be argued that Madrid have only really recovered from now, almost a decade on.

Del Bosque spent almost his entire playing career at Madrid and coached the club through their most successful spell in the modern era, including a seamless transition into the Galactico years. Bizarrely, he was deemed too tired in 2003, but as soon as he left, everything fell apart. Spain should take note.

After the World Cup came another title as the coach was made Marquis Del Bosque in 2011, receiving the noble honour from King Juan Carlos in a prestigious ceremony. But prestige cannot prevent criticism and, despite another 100 per cent performance en route to Euro 2012, the 61-year-old has seen his methods questioned throughout this continental competition. As ever, the coach has replied respectfully and diplomatically. "All opinions are valid," he explained last week.

A draw with Italy in Spain's opening Group C game was met with a muted response, while a 1-0 win over Croatia to seal passage to the quarter-finals brought more complaints. The 2-0 victory over France and shootout success against Portugal have cooled the criticism, but Spain still do not seem to realise how lucky they are after a period of 44 years in the international wilderness before 2008.

"We have gone from being very poor to very rich in a short space of time [in football terms]," Del Bosque said earlier on this month. "We have been looking for a playing style for our whole lives and now that we have found one, and it is successful, we criticise it." He has a point. Expectations are at an all-time high in Spanish football now, but win on Sunday and Vicente - by name and by nature - will become the first coach ever to claim a Champions League, a World Cup and a European Championship. Surely it's time his brilliant work was recognised.

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