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Spain’s triumph: artistry and results


Spain’s triumph: artistry and results

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THE best team won the World Cup. Full stop.           Spain’s brand of football is a standard the rest of the world can aspire to. In fact, they will have to if they want to knock the Spaniards off the pinnacle they now sit on. Champions should be able to bring a style that is unique and refreshing, something that sets them apart from the contenders.       The “Tica Tac” passing of Spain is their trademark. They have brought new meaning to the term possession football which they used to wear opponents down.It is very artistic – poetry in motion – and easy on the eye. This is not to say that any team can emulate what the Spaniards do and get it right in a day.What they have perfected has that telepathic touch about it. We know the reason for this. The nucleus of the team comes from Barcelona whose recent success springs from the visionary talents of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta at the heart of their midfield. When you complete the triangle with Xabi Alonzo from rivals Real Madrid, you have the best midfield in the world. They provide exquisite service to the strikers. The concept of marrying the best of your country’s champion club with some of the other top players is not revolutionary.    It was used by the Russians in the 70s with Dynamo Kiev and the Dutch did it with Ajax Amsterdam. Locally, we did it with New South Wales and Barbados boasted of some of its strongest and best units in the mid-70s.          It is to Spain’s credit that they have finally seen the sense and strength of being united. In former years the regional divisions undermined team unity and have been identified as a major reason for their underachieving status over the years.                Today the country rejoices because ethnic considerations were sidelined to achieve global glory and mutual agreement that Spain is the greatest football team on the planet.   The spin-offs could lead to higher productivity in the country and be used as a catalyst to bury their regional differences.       The beaten finalists, The Netherlands – along with Brazil – must get back to their roots to catch the eye again. Those of us who grew up seeing the Dutchmen with their brand of Total Football, executed with imagination, flair and fearlessness, have been disappointed with their now so-called pragmatic approach. I interpret this to mean that they play for the result at all costs.                Sad that they have parted company with Pele’s concept of the beautiful game. The same can be said about Brazil who has traded their samba trademark for the same pragmatic approach as the Dutch. It does not work for either of them.While coaches try to create teams in their own image, they must also be mindful that you have to be true to yourself, your origins and culture in crafting a plan to beat your opponents on football’s biggest stage.    It is arguable that both Brazil and The Netherlands didn’t quite reach their goals although they tinkered with their natural way of play.                  It is significant that Dutch legend Johan Cruyff backed Spain to win the World Cup. It is obvious that he saw something special in the Spaniards’ play that didn’t exist in his own countrymen.      Hopefully, Spain will help others who have lost their way to get back on track. I still prefer to watch the beautiful game as opposed to getting the result. And then again, Spain showed it is possible to achieve both.• Andi Thornhill is sports editor at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. He can be reached at [email protected]