When Spain played Scotland last month in Alicante,two goals and an assist from David Silva killed off any hope Scotland had of making the Euros via a playoff. One may say that this was a typical Spain performance and an expected win,it was,but for one important change. Vicente Del Bosque played David Silva as a false 9 against the Scottish and it paid off. With Fernando Torres out of form and Llorente,Negredo and Soldado lacking international experience,can we say that this move is a permanent one?
Another option for Del Bosque is to play Villa up front and bring in Pedro to play wide left, but for quite some time now Villa has been starting out wide left and then cuts in for both club and country.With the number of world class midfielders Spain have got,their best option maybe is to play one of their midfielders as a withdrawn forward. If Del Bosque was mulling over this option in the past few weeks,he got another reason to implement the strikerless formation,as Pep Guardiola played Fabregas in a similar sort of a role against Bilbao last weekend.
Cesc Fabregas started among the front three in a 4-3-3 ish shape,but was rarely the most forward player for Barcelona.As we can see below his average position is almost at the halfway line.
But more importantly Fabregas got forward at times,and scored a typical striker’s goal. So it makes perfect sense for Del Bosque to include another part of Barcelona’s successful style of play. His experiment with David Silva against Scotland was certainly a success as Silva stamped his class all over Scotland’s defence. This move can make Spain even stronger and it will also result in a better utilization of resources. As Del Bosque prefers playing both Alonso and Busquets as the holding midfielders in a double pivot,that leaves room for only four more attacking players. And as Xaviesta are a must,so there remains only one more midfield slot. With the likes of Villa,Silva,Fabregas,Mata,Cazorla,Pedro,Thiago all competing for that slot, it is a pity that we get to see some of the best talents sitting on the bench. So including an extra midfielder for an out and out striker must be too a great tempation for Del Bosque to resist. If this is the case then there are more dark days for Fernando Torres ahead.
Certainly if Del Bosque plays Silva in the “Messi Role” against England,then we will know for better whether Spain can play with a false 9 or not. With some of these tactical changes,it takes a lot of game time to adjust,as Manchester United found out with their interpretation of the stikerless formation with Rooney-Ronaldo-Tevez. They did manage to attain the understanding and fluency which led them to great success but national managers have far more less time with their team than club managers. So against England(supposedly a better team than Scotland), we will know for sure if this move will work for Spain.
With all of the front four with the ability to play anywhere in the final third,Spain may be moving closer to Johan Cryuff’s total football. Certainly with players like Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique who have very good abilty with the ball for defenders, Spain have the talent to emulate the great Dutch team of 70s. Carlos Puyol and Xabi Alonso more traditonal players who play in specific roles are on the wrong side of their 30s and replacing them with players like Javi Martinez and Santi Cazorla will only mean another step in the direction of Total Football.
And it would be a travesty if we don’t thank Pep Guardiola and Barcelona for their contribution to Spain’s National Football Team. Although Real Madrid fans would hate to admit it,Spain certainly wouldn’t be the same without Barcelona. Not only does Barcelona provide majority of the starting line-up,but also the style of play,the tiki-taka which helped Spain become the world champions was perfected first at the Nou Camp. And now if Spain implement the false 9,then the only difference over the past few years of Spain playing and out and out striker and Barca playing with Messi,will also be eliminated. David Silva certainly is no Leo Messi but as a part of a strong 4 man attack,he will be devastating as his second goal against Scotland shows
|I would love to see Spain line-up this way