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Posted by Eduardo Alvarez on 07/07/2010

From a Spaniard’s point of view, and given our country’s consistently awful performances in previous World Cups, there is nothing better than taking a look at the semi-final view of the Fixtures & Results icon and see Spain’s name there. Since the match after Paraguay ended, I have been refreshing the page every five minutes to check that my team are still there, and when I see the red and yellow flag I can’t help a huge grin of satisfaction. It’s good to be (almost) the king.

But you don’t think that I’ll be content with a spot in the semi-finals for Spain, do you? We need to beat the Germans, and this time we need to do it in grand style. No more 1-0 wins. No more 90 minutes at the edge of a nervous breakdown. We want the old Spain back. VanDerBolski, please take 10 minutes of your time to read what you need to do to carry Spain to the Final of the World Cup.

1) Spain mustn’t allow Germany to score first. If they do, it’s over. Trailing against Germany is like going shopping with your female partner during the sales season, a seemingly endless torturing experience. If the Germans get the lead, their counter-attack will kill Spain the same way it killed both England and Argentina, given the unquestionable fact that, except for Ramos, at this point of the season our back four couldn’t beat a German snail to a 50 metre sprint, let alone their impressively fit midfielders. Spain need to have 80% of ball possession, and during that inevitable 20% in which the ball will go from one German player to another, Del Bosque’s men will have to foul as much as required to avoid counter-attacks. They’ll also have to track down the German midfielders, who, at least to me, are much more dangerous than their forwards, even if Müller can’t play.

2) Our line-up needs fresh legs and better control of the midfield. You don’t need to have a masters degree in aerobics to perceive that our starting line-up against Paraguay badly needed some rest. Every single line had at least one player who couldn’t keep up with the physical approach the Paraguayans applied for most of the match. Del Bosque needs to introduce some changes and, as you rightly guessed, I have some suggestions: Marchena should start instead of Puyol (never imagined I’d say this, believe me), Silva should take Iniesta’s spot (ditto) and it would be great if Pedrito replaced The Artist Formerly Known as Fernando Torres in the starting line-up. At this stage, you all know Van der Bolski, so those changes will not happen. The only modification to his starting eleven will be Silva in, Torres out, and that’s it. I don’t think it’s enough, and that lack of courage to introduce changes will be costly to Spain’s interests. Unless he changes his conservative approach, he’ll have to make some adjustments to the side early into the second half, wasting substitutions that could be badly missed minutes later.

3) We should stop making fun of Schweinsteiger. I don't want him mad... By the way, nothing more fun that screaming his name out loud. Try it. Louder. Louder!!! Isn’t it great? Much better than screaming 'Alvarez!!', right?

4) We need to put their big match experience under a serious stress test. This is the youngest German national team ever. I know they’ve won pretty much every single tournament so far (under 17, under 19, under 21…), but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can handle the pressure of a match this relevant like Spain can (Euro08 winners, Champions League winners, etc). Since both teams played the final of Euro08, the Germans have introduced some changes to the side, goalkeeper and midfield being the most relevant. We need to put those new kids on the block under pressure to see what they’re made of. I know, they’re German, so it’s very likely that they’ll deliver. But you never know when we’re talking about players between 22 and 26 years of age. In the opposite corner, the experience of this Spanish squad should be an advantage. They know how to play this kind of matches, and that must become more tangible as the match goes on.

In summary, I am feeling a bit more optimistic today. As some readers pointed out, even if Spain will indeed suffer to answer the German’s high tempo, it is also very likely that Spain find more spaces to build plays and enjoy possession. We’ve been playing against teams who kept all of their players behind the ball, and that is indeed hard for any offensive-minded side. Germany will not be as forgiving as Paraguay or as conservative as Portugal, but will probably let Spain play a bit more. That is our chance.

Well, we’re almost there. Spain only need one more win to make it to the final of a World Cup, which sounds like a dream to me. Please, keep me dreaming until Sunday. VAMOS!

PS: I should mention that, for reasons beyond my control, I had to come back home right after the Paraguay match. If Spain defeat Germany, I’ll fly back to SA for the final, the same way I did in Euro08, with optimal results. You’re probably thinking that I am way too superstitious… and you’re very likely right.

Anyway, I just drove my own car for the first time in more than two weeks, and I have to confess that I activated the windshield cleaner a couple of times when I actually wanted to turn the indicator lights on. It’s extremely irritating to realise how limited our brains (at least mine) are.

I will watch THE match at the Lardies Mansion. His owner, Fernando, guarantees a first class HD broadcast and full focus on the proceedings (unless I am at the stadium, I hate to watch games with more than two or three people; large crowds inevitably they can’t pay attention to the match and end up distracting you as well). All the good luck charms and rituals will be strictly followed, including a phone call during halftime to speak to Carlos in South Africa, with whom I’ve watched Spain’s four previous matches, to discuss what was wrong (plenty of things, mind you) in those 10 minutes of break, while he smoked a cigarette.

Saint Iker stated today that ‘this is the most important match in the history of Spanish football’, rating this encounter above the Euro08 final. Who am I to argue with Saint Iker? It is indeed the closest Spain have ever been to win a World Cup. One more effort and this team will get there…



Posted by newf on 07/07/2010


Hope things are ok with you and your family in Spain. I hope you have time for a nap. If the time listed for posting is accurate, you are up early with a long night ahead.

Thanks for the update. Silva will be a good addition to the start, but that still means the scoring is mostly up to Villa. Let's hope for an early goal from someone, say on a set piece?

It is a worry about the pace of five of the back six. That means our guys have to be smarter or more skilled to fend of the counter for as long as possible.

Any clever ideas for how to slow the German running? At Valencia Silva did track back often to help, but is he expected to be too far forward for that?

Ed Alvarez: Ball possession is the best way to go. I imagine that Silva will be switching positions with Iniesta constantly, so both should help out at the back. I believe that we'll see plenty of the so-called 'tactical fouling' from Spain during the match. Biscuits and Alonso must be at their best to slow the Germans down.

Posted by Aussiebolo on 07/07/2010

Nice one Edu !....I agree that we are gonna have to be on top of our game to beat the Germans, the only good thing is that Germany is in top form, while Spain is still a long way from their best....which means there is still a lot of room for improvement. If the 'bajitos' (Xavi, Iniesta etc) finally click - Germany will have their hands full. I hope they go back to a 4-1-4-1 with Villa upfront and either Silva or Cesc in for Torres...I was thinking Cesc but maybe the knock he picked-up at training will rule him out ? which case I would think that 'el bigotes' will go for the 'safe option' and start Torres again. You reckon Silva will start ? I wish, but I dont think Don Vicente is so brave.
Suerte !

Ed Alvarez: my contacts believe that Del Bosque will go back to the team that started against Switzerland. 4-2-3-1, with the usual DMs, then Xavi, Iniesta and Silva, and Villa up front. Let's see if they're right...

Posted by Sharad Ananthanarayan on 07/07/2010

Hola Ed!!!

Hope home is treating you well. I can't imagine the kind of hope and expectation that must be in the air in Spain today. Wonder if people from Catalunya, Basque and Castilla have ever been so united in their prayers!! :)

Anyway, great article again. Couldn't agree more with the bit about the Germans scoring first. If that happens, we are finished and it could well end up becoming an embarrasment. Then again, if there is a team that can come back, Its Spain.

I believe its time to throw the form book outside the window. This is what it comes to. Its time for "The Golden Generation" to etch its name in history. FOREVER! VAMOS!!!!!!

Ed Alvarez: VAMOS!!!

Posted by Merengón Scaredandhopeful on 07/07/2010


Sadly, I don't think Mr. Potato's going to change the lineup and, if he does, he'll waste a change by bringing in Torres in the 2nd half anyway (and even then, he'll be far slower than their defense).

And I don't feel that need to win with style, our best chance is to score first and put them to sleep. Time to forget our fast one-touch game of the Euro2008, la fiesta, and embrace our main weapon during this World Cup, la siesta.

PS: Maybe, when it matters, we're all italian.

Ed Alvarez: yup, power to the siesta!! But let's not be that negative, merengon. This team always tried to have the initiative and looked to score, although at a much slower pace and with less creativity. From this approach to the catenaccion there's still some distance...

Posted by kj on 07/07/2010

great points, ED. while conceding the first or an early goal could be dangerous, i don't think the team will panic as much as it seems. if anything, they are composed and patient.

i'd also like to see pedro instead of silva, but hey, changes are changes...and we need a few.


Ed Alvarez: VAMOS!!!

Posted by edward jenner on 07/07/2010

brilliant article. very much like spain in this wc - full of latent promise and good quality on display but not flawless.

Agree on scoring first but if the germans score first, it will be a glittering match to watch - Spanish armada in a full scale attack against german ramparts (like the Barca vs Inter CL match or spain vs swiss match)
Also i think instead of torres silva switch i think a double swap involving xabi for silva and pedro for torres would be better.

Iniesta has been one of the few shining lights this campaign. I wouldnt want to bench him.

All the best espana..This victory is imp to uphold the ideals of beautiful football (tiki taka)..

Ed Alvarez: I disagree, fellow Ed. If Germany score first, our all out attack will finish with a terrible defeat. They are fantastic at the counter and really enjoy playing like that, unlike Inter or the Swiss, who just sat back and waited.
But agree that a win would be great for football...

Posted by John(Singapore)Spain Supporter on 07/07/2010

Iniesta & Alonso creation remains useful.Villa scores in 1st half,Torres sudden form erupted.Calculation prediction;Spain lead 1-0,win 2-1

Posted by Merengón Hipertenso on 07/07/2010

Small correction:

By italian, I was talking about me, happy with any kind of win. But right now, 38 mins. away of THE game, who cares about anything???


Posted by edward jenner on 07/07/2010

what a win...there is a footballing god who rewards good footballing teams..
Spain finally played above their 70% level.
Thank you ed for your articles and awaiting one more insightful article before the finals..

viva espana.

Posted by kj on 07/07/2010

just WOW!! what a win. pedro was an excellent choice, if only he was his usual unselfish self on that break with torres.....


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Eduardo Álvarez has written about Spanish football for Soccernet since Euro 2008 in Austria, where he witnessed a rare Spanish victory. He'll follow the Team Formerly Known as The Armada to South Africa, and will bring you all the news and gossips from the Spanish camp.

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