Richard Williams: Spain played anti-football

When Eric Wynalda makes more sense than Richard Williams, you begin to wonder. But people like Williams have a platform to spout utter rubbish.
Read his smarmy article to realize why England will never win another World Cup. They really do not get good football out there- sad to see a country that gave the world the sport and now it has utterly bypassed them.
Anyways, I accept Johan Cruyff’s indictment rather than someone who ends his article with “The players of England, France and Italy, who left the tournament in disrepute and humiliation, must have been watching on their holiday islands and having a good giggle.”

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8 comments on “Richard Williams: Spain played anti-football
  1. Spain don’t play anti-football (I would have to say that the Dutch did yesterday), but I would ultimately agree with the sentiment that their style of football is very dangerous to football in general. I wouldn’t want to see other teams copying them, otherwise every league in Europe will turn into La Liga (which is just a more talented version of the SPL, as Arsene Wenger said), and we’d lose the number one thing that makes football fun to watch: chance creation. Let’s not forget that they are the least scoring champion of all time, and that is a relevant statistic. Deserving champions undoubtedly, but they don’t look much different than the classic Italian teams of the 60’s, 70’s, 90’s and 00’s, ’82 being an obvious exciting departure for the Azzuri.
    For the sake of argument, if you were trying to get someone interested in football, would you show them any of Spain’s less than exciting 1-0 wins from this World Cup, or would you show them what the US team did, or even the Dutch team as they took down Brazil? Personally, I’d want to show people what Germany were like, positive in every sense of the word. Having been in this situation several times in the last month, I’ve actually told people to avoid watching Spain, as they are the kind of team that only purists can appreciate. Still, I find myself having a hard time appreciating them.

  2. Andrew, I don’t think one can mistake Spain for the Italians with their catenaccio at all- now that was truly boring football because they would shut down after scoring one goal. I did not see that from Spain- they played very positive football in the second half. But you can only play that level of a passing game if you have the midfield that Spain possesses – and no team in the world right now has the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, and Fabregas. It’s a very successful system. The Dutch tried to slow them down, intimidate them, but it did not work. Yes, Germany is a great team to follow but Spain’s skillful touch on the ball- that one pass that unlocks the defense has a beauty of its own.

  3. Based on my experience I see that the people with less experience in watching international soccer do not appreciate the beautiful passing game of Spain. On the other hand who are watching soccer for a long time, and actually soccer lovers, love that style.
    And that’s why I wanted to see a Brazil vs Spain final. Spain actually remained untested by the Latin American style, especially the Brazilian one, just because of one calm and intelligent Philipe Melo.

  4. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Spain for exploiting their midfield talents. They’d be crazy to play any other way. You’re absolutely right about their quality in midfield, particularly Xavi and Iniesta. It rarely matters who the third (or fourth) man in the midfield is, as those two are always brilliant whether they’re with Senna, Alonso, Fabregas, Yaya Toure, Keita or the clown Busquets. They always perform at the highest level, and I dare say that any midfield they are in can always be considered the best in the world. As a United fan, I found this out first hand a year ago in the Champions League Final.
    I just don’t find Spain’s current style interesting. I liked them better two years ago when they seemed to want to score goals. To me, they try to play like Barcelona do, only Barcelona are a goal scoring machine and Spain are the opposite. Some say it’s because of Torres’ injury, although a team with their talent can’t really use that as an excuse. Short of scoring the winning goal in the EURO 2008 final, he’s always been considered a bit of a let down for the Spanish team.
    The reason I compare it to Catenaccio is because of the lack of chances created, and therefore fewer goals taken. While the Italians or even past German teams may have passed the ball between defenders and the keeper, rarely venturing forward, the Spanish game is based in keeping the ball in the middle of the field, but it’s a similar idea. Despite pushing play through the wings at times, I feel like they were too cautious to go for a killer pass to cut open a defense. Normally with Barcelona, Xavi shows incredible vision and range with his passing, but with Spain he spent as much time passing it to adjacent players and then having them do the same while the other team either sat back and watched, or exhausted themselves trying to get the ball. I feel that a striker like David Villa deserved more service, especially in the big games. Catenaccio was a form of keep-ball until the opposition were frustrated enough to leave gaps for a counter attack, and on a basic level, Tiki Taka is the same.
    So, I can appreciate their style of football, but I would genuinely hate to see other teams adopting a style of ‘possession first-goals second.’ I always love to watch an open game, but that term could never have been associated with Spain during this tournament.

  5. As far as Spain v Latin American style, Paraguay tested them quite well. Spain were unsettled for long periods and Paraguay had a goal wrongly disallowed. Try getting an equalizer off Paraguay when it counts.

  6. Kev, that’s possibly the only knock against Spain – the only time they went down a goal, they were unable to come back against a very good Swiss defense. Paraguay would have been equally tough to overcome. Spain does have difficulties switching gears. They play a self paced style of football.

  7. Actually Spanish football has always had the peculiar problem of strikers who have never delivered, e.g., Fernando Morientes. They have always had great midfielders – Fernando Hierro, Michel Manolo Sanchis and now the trio of Xavi, Iniesta, and Fabregas. So this may not be a new problem. Even with Villa and Torres they remain a low goal scoring team. Spain + Messi/ Higuain- that’s what they need.

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