On Sunday, Spain became the first team to win three major titles in a row, demolishing England’s conquerors Italy.
Spain have been lauded over the last four years, since Fernando Torres’ goal against Germany saw them lift the first of their ‘treble’ in Vienna.
However, this tournament has seen their ‘tika-taka’ style increasingly being labelled ‘boring’. Numerous times over the tournament, friends have said to me ‘I don’t want Spain to win because their style of play is just boring now’.
If so, I really hope England employ the same boring style in the next World Cup. It may get us beyond the routine run to the quarter final.
The fact is Spain’s style is not boring. Or if it is, it is considerably less boring than watching England chase the ball, then give it away as soon as they win it, for 90 minutes.
Rather than be jealous of Spain’s success, we should learn something from their style, that possession of the ball is key.
I heard it so many times down the years as a young player myself – ‘if you have the ball, you can score and the other team can’t’.
It gets repetitive, but never untrue.
Spain have an ability with this style of play that England do not. That is to take the pressure off themselves by stringing together 10, 15, 20 passes when they win the ball back. It halts the momentum of the opponent. Many times they don’t go anywhere for 10-15 passes – maybe the reason why they have been labelled ‘boring’, other than jealousy at their success.
But they gain control of the game by doing this. After they have controlled possession of the ball, then they start picking gaps in the opponent’s defence – which will inevitably appear when said opponents are becoming tired from chasing the ball for so long. For this reason it is very rare that Spain are exposed to sustained pressure on their goal.
England, however, have regularly been subject to waves of attacks, and there are numerous examples of when they have struggled to get out their own half – most recently against Italy last Sunday.
One of the arguments against England playing in a similar way is that we don’t have the technical quality. I would say that it is somewhat of an insult to the likes of Gerrard, Parker, Rooney, Young, Lampard, Barry (when fit) and Carrick (if and when somebody sees the sense to select him) to say there are no English players who can be part of a team who can have a sustained period of possession.
Maybe we do not have the quality of Xavi, Iniesta, Silva and so on to work chances from nothing in and around the penalty area. But that is not why Spain are being labelled ‘boring’.
If you called Spain ‘boring’ during this tournament, it matters little. They won their third straight major tournament. They are also the tournament’s top scorers to boot. Still think they’re boring? Bore off.