La Furia Roja - Changing the Game
Spain's recent rise to succes in soccer has been an unprecedented fight to the top.
There were some impressive records broken yesterday during the Euro Cup 2012 Final against Italy; most goals scored in a Euro or World Cup final, the first nation to ever defend their Euro Cup title (from 2008), the first team to win 3 major titles back-to-back-to-back (Euro Cup 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro Cup 2012), having a player scoring in two different Euro Cup Finals (Torres in 2008 v. Germany and in 2012 against Italy), the Golden Boot given to Torres..... You get it.
Still, I think the most impressive thing to note from the Spanish side in this tournament was their configuration.
With David Villa injured, and Fernando Torres' performance being too erratic, Del Bosque's decided to play with no strikers through most of the tournament, relying on powerful players like Fábregas, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta, Silva, and Busqeuts to get goals, playing what appears to be a 4-6-0 configuration, occasionally subbing Torres in at the top.
Many people think this style is boring, but boring as it may be it plays on one Spanish strength. Passing.
Against the Italians this robust style of play really did work well and the Spanish were able to gain a 2-0 lead by half-time with no striker on the field. The consistency of La Roja in their passing is stupendous and the possession is always tilted in their favor. This strategy also proved to be flexible many times throughout the tournament against many strong sides like France, Portugal, and ultimately Italy. When the Spanish needed to defend they could quickly defend and get the ball moving back in the direction they wanted, and when defenders couldn't stop the ball there was Iker Casillas (arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world) to save the day.
Yet, as soon as Del Bosque substituted in Torres at the 75th minute the dynamic changed. Torres is a world class player and despite his dodgy performance over the past couple of years he had a great tournament this year. Even though he was only one of the starting 11 once and was substituted in rarely if ever he still was able to win the Golden Boot. During the game his presence really made the Spanish side all the more frightening, ultimately getting a beautiful goal and setting up a beautiful assist for his Chelsea FC teammate Juan Mata when he could've gotten yet another goal.
The fact that Spain were able to get goals without Torres shows how effective the 4-6-0 line up can really be with their star midfielders and defenders. Yet if they were to start Torres on the pitch every game in a 4-5-1 lineup, I think Torres would've been the top goal scorer of the tournament by an even larger margin. Either way, the sub-in-the-striker-later approach really worked well for Del Bosque and the Spanish Selección, I can only hope to see Torres be used to his full potential in the Brazil 2014 World Cup.