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elpresidente On June - 25 - 2009

Spain Post-Mortem

Yesterday before the USA game I cataloged pretty clearly that Spain were not as perfect a squad as people had come to believe, no team even the great 1970 Brazil squad is perfect and no team is a sure win in any circumstance, but in the end having witnessed an American squad that had just days before capitulated to Brazil losing 3-0 without a fight Im supposed to believe that the USA are somehow now a major world power in the world of soccer because they engendered a miracle on grass? This is the same squad more or less that had a hard time not looking like a pub-team against Costa Rica at Saprissa Stadium last month. No, I figured some of our patented sharper lens on World Futbol is in order after some appalling displays of unforced jingoism and shoddy reporting from so-called journalists in this country.

Lets start with as.com: Spain lost their style. We were overconfident, first error. The second error was tactical. We werent faithful to the style that made us Euro champs. Now, some would say thatd be a slap at the feet of the Americans that it was more Spains loss than the USAs win. No, right in the headline they mention that it was the USs discipline that created the problem for the Spanish, but it was Spains lack of discipline that lost it as well and it was Del Bosque that created it. Rather than trust in what brought them there as they said, they were down 1-0 and had at least 5 clear chances at goal, with one clear penalty denied on Xavi as he was pushed in the back by Landon Donavan, Del Bosque decides to take Cesc Fabregas out swapping him for Santi Cazorla. A central midfielder for a winger, Del Bosque decides that Spain were playing too narrow with Cesc and Santi would give them added width, but thats not Spains game. If your strength is in the midfield, that touch and control between Xavi, Xabi and Cesc, and the US is accurately pressuring them there, do you capitulate and create a different point of attack, even if you are weaker from the wing than you are attacking through the middle? I know a great team is supposed to adapt to game situations and find there way to goal, but some things are too ingrained in a clubs DNA. Del Bosque gave up a bit of their strength in the hopes that a weakness would develope. Did he think that on the wing, Spain would be be able to beat the US on crosses into the box? With their height? Silly.

Marca.com blames the loss again on overconfidence. They got the rival that they wanted, and one that they never expected, they served up unforced errors, lost their confidence and wound up shipwrecked off the Yankee coast. Lacking technique, the gutty Americans complicated the Spanish attack once by a forward (Altidore) that had little effect on either one of his Spanish league employers Villareal or Xerez. As a story though, it wasnt even in the top eight stories for the Madrid sports daily. Typical Marca. In the Barcelona papers, they blamed the loss on fatigue and even with the majority of possession they committed stupid mistakes in the U.S. area and the ultimate pass was never assured, leaving it difficult to score a goal. Youd think that the papers were discounting the Americans entirely. Nothing of the sort. Sport.es called it an inspired tactic by the Americans, not to sit and wait for Spain, but to attack the Spaniards at their strength: the midfield. They counter attacked well led by Altidore, Donovan and Davies and they made their presence well known. The best, and most measured analysis of the situation may actually have come from Spains other captain, Barcas Carles Puyol. Asked whether the Americans were taken lightly, he said that none of the opponents whether they were Iraq, New Zealand or others were given any more or less than any other. The opportunities were there, the U.S. didnt have many but they were more efficient. He ended it with a telling quote, We do not need to be worried about the future. I agree. It was a wonderful win for the United States, an unexpected win, but it wont upset the apple cart.

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