Craig Levein….Football’s Great Visionary
Never thought I’d say this after that night in Prague when Scotland slumped to a 1-0 defeat but Craig Levein must know what he is talking about. It may have been one of the worst Scottish performances in recent memory (which takes some doing) but the tactical blue print inspired the world champions. Del Bosque opted to field six midfielders and no strikers against the Italians. However, whereas Scotland played with what seemed a flat back 9 that night Spain actually attempted to attack the opposition’s goal. All joking aside, the true inspiration for Spain is Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola’s use of Messi as a false 9 was remarkably successful but whether such tactics can be employed without a player with Messi’s characteristics remains to be seen. I wasn’t convinced by Spain’s formation. At times they seemed to lack an out ball to help keep the ball in the opponents final third. But then again what do I know. Levein obviously knows best.
Playmakers reign supreme at the Euro’s
At the moment European football is blessed with an abundance of top class playmakers all capable of dictating games with their speed of feet and mind.
His team may have lost against the Danes but Wesley Sneijder was brilliant. His appreciation of space and understanding of how Denmark were trying to shut him down was uncanny. By positioning himself in the hole between the Danish back four and midfield with clever off the ball movement Sneijder at times seemed impossible to pick up. And when he got the ball in these areas his passing was precise and incisive. The ball he played to Huntelaar with the outside of the boot was probably the outstanding piece of individual play in the tournament so far. Also this goal he scored in training was half decent to say the least.
The Spain–Italy game was also characterised by some of football’s top playmakers. Spain played a team full of them but Xavi still stands head and shoulders above the rest. I can’t remember the last time I seen him give the ball away. For the Italians Pirlo stood out. His penetrative pass for DiNatale’s goal was sheer class and just about summed him up.
The wingers are not bad either.
A winger taking on a bewildered full back by sending him down the river with a dummy and jinking past is one of football’s great sights. When he managed to get turned Ronaldo caused Boateng all sorts of problems with his direct running and pace. His ability to go either on to his left or right foot causes defenders all sorts of problems as they try to second guess the Real Madrid star. Nani also offered a great outlet for the Portugese and put in a good shift. Shame they had Postiga up top though who was about as much use as a chocolate kettle.
Robben for the Dutch was largely disappointing though. His dependence on his left foot is actually laughable and allows full backs to just show him to the byline because he clearly does not fancy using his swinger. Who am I to slag off someone for been one footed though? I’ve lived by Rivaldo’s ‘My right foot is for standing on’ philosophy for years and to limited success.