Spain national team for World Cup 2014
The formation and system that is going to be used predominantly is a 4-3-3. The main objective of the team is to control the ball, dominate possession, and create chances in this way. This control of the ball is both an attacking, and a defensive ploy. Of course, as we all know, the presence of ball playing defenders is of paramount importance to such a style. Assuming a starting line-up of Juanfran, Pique, Sergio Ramos, and Jordi Alba, there surely is no dearth ball playing ability. With Spain pressing high up the pitch to try and recover the ball quickly, the defensive line will also be high. The towering Pique and athletic Ramos are surely important here, but reassuringly for fans of La Roja, the back up cast looks strong too. Martinez and Albiol are expected to be the back up. Out on the wings, Juanfran has had a good season with Atletico, and provides attacking impetus and width, which can be important, especially when Spain have someone like Silva playing ahead of him. Alba does the same on the left, and his partnership with Iniesta is important. In terms of the back up, Alberto Moreno of Sevilla looked like the favourite to play behind Alba, but Azpilicueta got the nod over Moreno, probably due to his versatility and ability to fill in at both, right and left full back.
The midfield is where it gets interesting. With ball retention in mind, the midfield assumes critical importance. Sergio Busquets is sure to start in the holding role, from where he drops back towards his goal while Spain have the ball. This is where he plays his simple passes from, and looks to bring the more advanced midfielders into the game. The players ahead of him are the ones who move the ball. Xavi and Alonso shuttle from box to box, playing simple passes that help build attacks. These are the midfielders that will play a lot of the ‘pass before the assist’ passes. What’s important is how they move the ball around to shift opposition defences. With opponents often packing the defence to thwart La Roja, their passing is important. The only doubt arises when they’re pressed heavily in midfield. At the Confederations Cup last year, Xavi and Iniesta in midfield struggled when they were pressed, and failed to get the ball forward effectively. The trio in front of them are also all midfielders most of the time, with Silva, Cesc, and Iniesta expected to start here. These 6 players have a good sense of interplay, but in order to make their short passing game work, they need to be close together. This leaves them open to pressing, and the lack of pace in behind results in a failure to fully exploit the length of the pitch too. It’s because of this that pressing in midfield is so effective against Spain.