Spain: Robotic?, Germany: Enjoyable?

Love reading the comments on The Shin Guardian.

Great question and follow-ups today on the style of soccer employed by Spain and Germany being almost inverse to their historical way of playing.

I’ll republish it here for discussion.

Ozil: Playing with panache....

T-Muck: Germany is just so enjoyable to watch, not that Spain isn’t, but they just refuse to live life on the edge and just go for it. They’re almost like robots.

Matt Mathai: It’s very interesting that you characterize the Spanish as robotic and the Germans as enjoyable to watch. That’s a complete turnaround from the usual descriptions of those sides.

I happen to agree with you completely.

T-Muck: Now the question is what is the reason behind the turnaround? Is it the coaching? The youth of German team who weren’t supposed to get this far? Or the massive expectations of the Spanish team to where they’re playing very carefully almost a don’t screw up mindset?

Shaun, TSG: I would say its a combination of the first two. Youthful exuberance with good coaching. In past years, Germany have always gotten the efficient, robotic “boring” style of play tag, but i think that’s a little unfair.

They’ve had plenty of exciting flair players but they have always played in a manner that beats the opponents. They were actually quite versatile in this way. In the 86 world cup final, down 2-0 they came back (only to lose it) and they did it in a quick slick “beautiful game” like way. 4 years later they efficiently and boringly beat Argentina in the final.

These days with more teams “parking the bus”, they’ve figured out that in order to win, you can’t just score a goal and defend, as so many teams are looking for that counter goal. Instead (like Spain), they need to score more goals than their opponent (such a simple concept that so many teams fail to grasp).

Villa: The exception, not the rule for Spain?

The difference between them and Spain though is that they’re not as predictable (hence the robotic image equated with Spain that you suggested). Spain just do the same thing over and over again. They’re just very good at it and eventually will break you down. All their goals have been fairly similar (exception being Villa’s long range shot of the Chilean keepers mistake).

Germany on the other hand, have had goals from several different players, long range shots, headers, cut backs from the by line and straight down the middle.

I don’t think however, that Spain are playing “carefully” based on expectations. I think they’re doing what they need to get by. I certainly hope they “wake up” in this semi as they will need to score multiple goals with Casillas looking as shaky as he as so far.

Matt Mathai: I think it’s a combination of the youth of the German team – they seem not to know that they’re expected to be afraid of making mistakes – and the caution of the Spanish team caused by unbelievably high expectations. I think the opening loss to SUI did major damage to their psyches. Torres seems to be playing very tight. Sure, fitness plays a part, but I think there’s more to it than that.

I can’t say I’ve ever cheered for a German team, but I love how this one is playing, and I’d like to see that kind of team chemistry rewarded.

__________

And continue….

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by DanPA on 2010/07/06 at 10:00 AM

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/world_cup_2010/8789682.stm

    Klinsman wrote an article for BBC sport, describing the path he took the DFB down after Euro 2004. Its very interesting.

    Reply

  2. Posted by DanPA on 2010/07/06 at 10:07 AM

    I am wondering how much Spain’s opponents have factored into their perceived roboticness. Would the perceptions be reversed if Germany played two “park the bus teams” (Portugal + Paraguay) and Spain played England and Argentina?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/07/06 at 10:16 AM

      Great question Dan.

      From my point of view and watching Spain against Chile–who follow more of your Argentina style–Spain still didn’t have a lot of ingenuity.

      I believe it was TSG member Patrick who stated that Spain would suffer without Fernando Torres size up front and to some degree I think that’s the case…and maybe why they are trying to get Torres working.

      Either way, a team like Spain needs to threaten more up the middle to open up their quick passing and flanks and I don’t think they’ve done enough of that at all this World Cup.

      Reply

      • Posted by DanPA on 2010/07/06 at 10:54 AM

        I agree that Spain hasn’t been dynamic enough down the middle, but, like George pointed out, their opponents have been putting so many defenders behind the ball and clogging the middle.

        Thinking back the group games (I don’t recall which ones) when Spain had Navas playing as an almost-traditional winger, they got him the ball with acres of space, but his final crosses were consistently poor… that could also be a case of Torres not being sharp with his runs.

        I think Spain needs to threaten more down the flanks, in order to open up space in the middle. I don’t know if that is possible with their personnel, but their incredible patience with the ball allows them to probe until Villa can get some room in the box.

        Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/07/06 at 10:27 AM

      Agreed. When a team puts those sorts of numbers behind the ball in the last third, it is very difficult for a team, even one as talented as Spain, to break down. Not so sure I go along with the robotic to be honest. They keep possession and keep probing for an opening. Maybe Spain could shoot a little more from distance, but I am not sure what people expect them to do. The ball goes backwards in order to keep possession and tempt the opponent out, but they sit deep. Personally, I am glad Spain “don’t do an England” an try to hit the forwards with hopeless balls over the top and lose possession. Their patient play has seen them progress, and that’s the name of the game in tournament football.

      It will be interesting to see how Germany impose their ‘new style’ on a team like Spain who keep the ball well.

      I’d like to see Netherlands vs. Spain in the final.

      Reply

  3. Posted by T-Muck on 2010/07/06 at 10:30 AM

    First, WOHOO!!! I contributed to a post! Second, something else I’d like to throw out there. It seems there is also an arrogance to the Spanish play. They’re not reacting to other team, they’re stubbornly doing what they do. The Germans are reacting, making adjustments, and basically letting the game evolve and happen as opposed to trying to force things the way they want to play. The Germans are dominating every game tactically, physically, and mentally. Which that last one is I think very important.

    I think Dan does have a point though, but I don’t think its with “park the bus teams” I think the Germans played teams that were just total head cases. England obvious. Argentina, I don’t see how you can’t be a head case and play for Maradona.

    Reply

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