Spain’s first problem is that everyone knows exactly how they play. They methodically weave their way down the pitch with short passes, and score. They are so confident in their style that they shun the orthodoxy of modern football, which says that the best way to score is on a fast break. . .What are your best sources, including blogs, for World Cup commentary? Please share in the comments and I'll compile in a future post.
Spain’s biggest problem is the World Cup’s format. Pre-tournament, pundits tend to presume that the best team will win. France and Argentina, for instance, have been written off on the grounds that they aren’t the best team. Yet the pundits are confusing World Cups with leagues. In a league the best team does win, because a league lasts nine months. Over such a long period, random factors like one referee’s error or a ball on the post are rarely decisive. In a league, quality tells.
In contrast, a World Cup is decided in four games. Almost every big team will reach the second round. After that, whoever wins four times is the champion.
Most of the knockout games will be decided by one goal or penalties. A referee’s error or a random element, a ball hitting the post rather than the back of the net, therefore can – and often does – decide the World Cup.
Luck of the draw matters too: if either Spain or Brazil somehow fail to win their group, they could meet in the second round – thereby opening the way to a second-rank side such as France or Argentina.
If this tournament were simply about deciding who is the best side, the Spaniards could swing round Fifa’s offices and pick up the trophy now. Instead, to use an analogy chosen entirely at random, Spain will probably default.
Congrats to Switzerland!