They may top Group I of the 2014 World Cup Qualifying but Spain haven’t played with their usual dominance. Are the current World and European champions fading out or sleeping giants?
Spain have only managed eight goals in their opening five World Cup qualifiers – that figure is boosted by a 4-0 win against Belarus. Compared that to the 26 they scored in eight qualifying games for Euro 2012 and you see a stark difference.
Last week Spain drew to Finland as they failed to close out the game before narrowly beating France to boost their chances of topping the group.
Spain doesn’t have an in-form striker in their ranks. During Euro 2008 Spain were lucky to find David Villa at his peak as he took the golden boot with four goals. The same can be said of the World Cup in 2010 - David Villa was on fire.
They somehow managed to win Euro 2012 playing in a 4-6-0 formation. They got away with it then but they are unlikely to do the same when trying to retain the World Cup in Brazil.
Italy, Germany and the Netherlands are all likely go further than Spain in 2014. The quality of the Spanish midfield can’t be argued with. With creative players like Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Juan Mata playing alongside Xavi is still arguably the most formidable midfield in world football.
However they don’t have an out-and-out striker to finish the chances created by this outstanding midfield. Since suffering a broken leg Villa has lost his deadly touch and is now operating on the wing for Spain. As for Fernando Torres, everyone knows the story there.
The only true striker they had in the squad for the last qualifiers was Alvaro Negredo. Whilst Negredo is a good player, he is nowhere near the standard of the likes of Robin van Persie, and the talent of Marco Reus and Mario Balotelli.
The sheer lack of potency up front is the reason why Spain will find it difficult to match their European counterparts at next summer’s tournament.
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