Spain produced a display of great artistry and invention which was too much for an England side and which showed just how destructive passing and movement can be.
The England players’ reaction at the end of the match said it all. Walking off the pitch and discussing amongst each other, I’m pretty sure none of them could have explained what had hit them. True, this was an understrength England side against a Spain side who hadn’t changed much after their Euro 2008 win but they knew they had been comprehensively outplayed.
Spain, playing a diamond formation passed and moved the ball with an almost telepathic like understanding of each other, showing great fluidity and flexibility. In terms of technique, England and Spain aren’t much different but in terms of intelligence and creativity, Spain are head and shoulders in front. Xavi, dictated the play though the central midfield four and Villa all contributed in weaving patterns around the England midfield. Torres was disappointing and if proof needed to be that Villa is better than the Liverpool forward albeit different players this was it. The Valencia striker was slightly fortunate to get the ball past Jagielka and Terry before firing the first goal but such is the balance and close control of the Spain side, it wasn’t just about luck.
It wasn’t a perfect performance; England had the better chances while David James didn’t have much to do as Spain lacked the dynamism which surely would have been even more devastating. Capello’s side passed the ball decently at times but with Gerrard, Walcott, Joe Cole and Rooney missing they lacked the quality to keep the ball. It was a match which could have promised more with these players as Spain didn’t look the strongest out wide however they couldn’t capitalise, as the gap between midfield and attack made it seemed like England were playing a 8-0-2. However it was the Spanish’s hypnotic passing which dragged their opponents all over the pitch, the star of the show.
If Wenger was watching, he would have been purring at the sight though it is something he has already witnessed many a times at Arsenal. When the Gunners do get their players back from injury and start to click again the potential is devastating. And with Arshavin and Nasri they will have the dynamism which was missing from ‘La Roja’ to go with the passing and movement. The game brought back memories of last season where Arsenal outplayed Man United and Liverpool (but lost, 2-1 and 4-2 respectively) and of the ‘Invincibles.’
In other news, Eduardo was in action for Croatia and set up Niko Kranjcar just 15 minutes after coming on.”I am delighted to have Eduardo back and his return is an enormous bonus for us,” said Bilic.”His ball control, the ability to hold it and wait for support has been sorely missed and it makes all the difference when we play top-level opposition.”
Sagna and Gallas played in a 2-0 defeat to Argentina for France where both had decent games. Read about the rest of the Gunner’s in action on the Arsenal website.