For a nation that is crazy about football as Spain, not winning a major international championship for almost 60 years was unpardonable. The team started most of the major tournaments since the 1990s as one of the favorites but always suffered an early exit or an exit in the semi finals stages, making it almost a habit of realizing their tag as the perennial underachievers.
Things, however, changed when Luis Aragones was brought in as the manager of the national team and playing an awe inspiring brand of football, Spain won the EURO 2008 tournament, brushing aside each and every side that came in its path. The final against Germany might have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Germans but for the Spanish people and the neutrals, it was a match that confirmed that The Beautiful Game is still The Beautiful Game.
Aragones’ departure from the managerial post since then, has however, not halted the progress of the team as former Real Madrid manager Vicente del Bosque was handed the charge of the team and he took the team to unprecedented success when la Roja claimed its first FIFA World Cup title in 2010 in South Africa and defended their European crown successfully in 2012. And this goes to show that football, no matter how physical it might have become over the last 20 or 30 years, nothing compares to skillful football. The likes of Brazil and Argentina that used to depend on the skills of the players to get them over the line are now relaying more and more on the physical game and the countries which were the actual proponents of beautiful football are all now becoming the physical side.
For the fans of these nations, many would blame the European leagues and their huge wage bills that draw the players from these countries to the continent, and their physical outlook of the game that has made the players much more dependent on physicality than skill as well. As a fan of The Beautiful Game, it is always good to see a through pass, threading the eye of the proverbial needle that bypasses two or three defenders to find it intended target who slots the ball home than a long ball to a striker who heads the ball in.
But the evolution of the game has been such that these aspects have almost disappeared from the game and it is extremely disheartening to see that the opposition trying to stop the Spanish team by deploying physical defensive midfielders and man markers. The competitiveness of football is such that even a single goal could be fatal for a team but that doesn’t mean it’ll deserve the sole principle that makes football so unique – going forward and scoring a goal.
One of the aspects that made the Brazil team of the 60s, 70s and 80s so popular that it would conceded 3 goals in a match but it could score 6 in return and that is what is missing today.