Confederations Cup Tactical Analysis: Spain

With the Confederations Cup around the corner, Goal analyses the systems of each side. In this edition, we look at the outright favourites for the title, Spain...
The undisputed champions of Europe and the world are marching forward with a new feather to add to their already overflowing cap. With only the Confederations Cup in 2009 missing from their trophy cabinet which has a World Cup sandwiched between two comprehensive Euro triumphs, it's all the more motivation for the Spanish armada to take the competition head on.

For the record Spain have never won the competition before and would like to rectify that, having added the World Cup to their repertoire. In spite of Spain not having a good year in club football with the Germans beating both Spanish clubs, the 'La Furia Roja' is a different beast altogether.

Coach and System

After Luis Aragones called it a day after guiding Spain to triumph in Euro 2008 it was Vicente Del Bosque who took over as head coach. The Grand old man of Spanish football had a ridiculously successful spell coaching Real Madrid, a club he represented as a player leading them to La Liga titles and a Champions League triumph in 2002, the last time the club managed to win the continental competition for that matter.

Under Del Bosque, Spain has not conceded a single goal in the knockout stages of any major tournament, an enviable record. And before we forget he also won the World Cup in 2010 and European Cup in 2012.

Coaching record –
Games Wins Draws Losses Win %
72 60 6 6 83.33

Spain usually play a variant of the standard 4-3-3 formation with stylish modifications. With the poor showing of some of the Spanish forwards, Del Bosque has sometimes been forced to play a false nine instead of a centre-forward. Cesc Fabregas has often carried this role with aplomb but has also fallen flat at times, and he needed to change it around by bringing on a striker for that effect.

With Fernando Torres enjoying an above average season at Chelsea and David Villa looking back to his very best even though he was mostly used as a substitute by Barcelona, Spain do have two recognised centre forwards at their disposal. The unpredictable Del Bosque might just start with Cesc Fabregas or even Arsenal's Santi Cazorla in that role if he wanted to. The versatile Villa could then slot in at left wing, a position he has played for the Catalan giants.

The back four however will largely remain unchanged even though Gerard Pique did not have the best of seasons with the Barcelona player partnering Sergio Ramos in the centre of the defense. Jordi Alba who had a great showing at the Euros will reprise his role at left back while Alvaro Arbeloa will slot in at right back.

The midfield should be the tried and tested Barcelona trio of Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta unless Javi Martinez's incredible displays for FC Bayern Munich force Del Bosque's hand and he resorts to pushing Iniesta further up in attack, a likely but distant possibility.

With Del Bosque himself admitting that he has too many attackers, the likes of Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla might be restricted to the bench, inspite of virtuoso performances for their club sides. In all likeliness, Pedro might be slotted on the right while Silva could start on the left. Jesus Navas, who secured his move to Manchester City will be most probably used as a late substitute with his pace a perfect foil to stretch the tired defenders.

Iker Casillas, inspite of being a bench warmer at Madrid will be the undisputed number 1 at Spain. In terms of tactics, Spain will employ their tried and tested possession brand of football where they not only physically, but mentally tire out the opposition, by starving them of ball possession. In that way, their weakest point a.k.a the fragile defense will never be under much threat allowing Spain to maximize their strengths.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: The big game mentality and the experience of being Champions and a largely unchanged squad will be the main advantages for the Spanish team. Then there is of course the best midfield in the world by a mile which would be the really lynchpin of Spanish superiority.

Weaknesses: None of the Spanish forwards have been in blistering form with Torres missing chances galore and Villa being a bits and pieces player at Barcelona, often used as a substitute and deployed on the left. The back line is also a cause for concern. Pique has looked shaky throughout the season and Ramos is always prone to an occasional mistake or two.

Star man: Sergio Busquets

It might be surprising that we have picked a defensive midfielder as the player to watch out for, inspite of the constellation of the attacking and playmaking talent in display with the likes of Iniesta, Xavi, Villa being the players leading the pack.

However when you analyze the Spanish game in detail, it's the often overlooked Sergio Busquets who is the key component linking both defense and attack together. Especially with the frail Spanish defense, Busuqets will have to be in his toes in his role of shielding the back four.

Not the fastest or the best tackler on the pitch, Busquets makes up for that by having incredible vision and as team mate Xavi once said, the ability to read the game like no other, anticipating the opponent's moves before they make them. Hence he does not usually need to launch into a risky tackle as he can often intercept the move before fruition.

What do you make of Spain's chances? Send in your thoughts in the comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @hopelessk.

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