Signs that coach is wor­ried about tiki-taka

Sunday World - - World Of Sport - MZWANDILE kaBIZOKWAKHE

BE­ING a soc­cer coach is a high-pres­sure job and be­ing a World Cup-win­ning coach even more so, if Vi­cente Del Bosque’s Spain side are any­thing to go by.

Pet­ri­fied of Barcelona’s slide, he went schiz­o­phrenic se­lect­ing any­thing and ev­ery­thing.

His pre­vi­ous squads, built not on his do­ing but Barca’s suc­cess, were about tiki-taka foot­ball.

Of course he had the power and strength of Fer­nando Tor­res. That was all the brawn he could ac­com­mo­date in his pre­vi­ous teams.

Now there are Iker Casil­las, Pepe Reina, David De Gea (goal­keep­ers); Ser­gio Ramos, Ger­ard Pique, Raul Al­biol, Juan

Juan­fran Tor­res, Jordi Alba, Daniel Car­va­jal, Al­berto Moreno, Ce­sar Azpilicueta (de­fend­ers); Javi Martinez, Xavi Her­nan­dez, Xabi Alonso, An­dres Ini­esta, Jorge Koke, Ser­gio Bus­quets, Santi Ca­zorla, An­der Itur­raspe, Cesc Fabre­gas, Thi­ago Al­can­tara, Juan Mata, David Silva, Pe­dro Ro­driguez, Je­sus Navas (mid­field­ers); and Diego Costa, David Villa, Fer­nando Tor­res, Al­varo Ne­gredo, Fer­nando Llorente (strik­ers).

This is a pro­vi­sional team and he will even­tu­ally trim it down to 23. Most of the brawn may still lose out.

Here are strange se­lec­tions of hold­ing mid­field­ers of vary­ing de­grees, named from most to least de­fen­sive.

Martinez is a bit-part hold­ing mid­fielder for Bay­ern.

Itur­raspe is a ris­ing star in the Bil­bao side.

Alonso is the lynch­pin for Real Madrid.

Koke is a good passer, like Alonso, but his work rate, hus­tling and mark­ing make him de­fen­sive. Bus­quets is the only de­fen­sive mid­fielder at Barca.

Fabre­gas is not so much a marker or de­fen­sive mid­field as a dis­rup­tor.

Thi­ago can do a job by fall­ing be­hind the ball out of pos­ses­sion.

But it is in the fi­nal third where Del Bosque has stepped right out of the norm. Villa can play ball and in­ter­change with his mid­field­ers but the rest are only about power Tor­res and Ne­gredo even have nick­names El Nino and Beast, re­spec­tively to il­lus­trate what they are about.

This is a se­ri­ous de­par­ture from the Span­ish model and sig­nals a coach wor­ried that the tiki-taka he in­her­ited from Pep Guardi­ola’s Barca is dead, so he is re­vert­ing to what he knows and has ex­e­cuted well at Real Madrid di­rect foot­ball. The ad­di­tion of Navas is very telling here.

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