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Geoffrey Kondogbia, France and Ghana's Seidu Salifu

Get the right mentality, don’t park the bus and the 5 things Ghana must do to beat Spain

Geoffrey Kondogbia, France and Ghana's Seidu Salifu

Geoffrey Kondogbia, France and Ghana's Seidu Salifu - France v Black Satellites, Ghana

Goal’s Joshua Ansah suggests five things the Black Satellites need to do before they can overcome the ‘Mission Impossible’ against Spain tonight

By Joshua Ansah

Ghana v Spain is almost a mission impossible and it would not be out of place to hear the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme song playing in the Ghanaian dressing room before the match, but coming back to the ‘real’ world it is almost damn near impossible to stop the Spanish juggernaut that has been rolling over  various opposition at all levels. The current Uefa Under-19 champions started off their campaign with a sumptuous win over USA, playing the sort of slick football which only the proverbial parking of the bus has occasionally, I repeat occasionally, gotten the better of.  

The Spanish though are yet to win this tournament after two attempts in their recent charmed history and are still beatable but to manage this, a lot will have to be done well. 
During this period of domination, a key factor Spain have had in their favour is opposition giving up even before they get onto the field. They have won the battle of the minds several times and over the years have only struggled against teams who held on long enough to realise that they were actually playing against 11 men and not the 23 alien the Spaniards can be made to look like at times with all the admiration and awe from the media. One need only read through the introduction to this piece again to find out how easy it is to get set in the wrong mentality and assume a defeatist attitude before the game, playing into the hands of the Spanish ‘control freaks’. Against Spain on Monday, the Black Satellites will have to be mentally tuned in the right way if they are to have any chance at winning the game. They have to step out on that pitch believing that they have an opportunity to win the game else they would be best served not showing up at all.

I know, I know that seems like the best way to counter the control freaks of the Spaniards, although AC Milan and Bayern Munich found other ways to do it, but if Ghana are going to get anything from this match, then they will have to abandon this particular philosophy, mainly because they suck at parking the bus. Against France you feel the Black Satellites will have benefited from a little bit more positivity rather than looking to hit the French on the counter, an approach that required a lot of solid defensive work which they managed well for about an hour before all came crumbling down. Considering Yaya Sanogo who led the French line is anything but mobile that was an easier task compared to the Spanish forward line which employed Suso as a false nine against USA and along with Gerard Deulofeu and Jese Rodriguez dragged the American defence all over the place with their movement. In those circumstances the Ghanaian defence will most likely fold far sooner than it took them to against France and while I don’t suggest they go out guns blazing or worse still try to play the Spaniards to their own game, I believe parking the bus will get the Black Satellites nowhere against the Spaniards.
Against the French, the central midfield pairing of Alfred Duncan and Moses Odjer provided very little cover for the defence and their lack of positional awareness meant the less mobile Sanogo had a field day as his supply line came up against little resistance. Against Spain, such neglect in front of the back four will be a recipe for extreme disaster as the Spanish are far more crafty than the French and given their ability to exploit the tightest of spaces, giving them free reign in between the defence and the midfield will amount to footballing suicide. Whoever plays that holding midfield role on Monday will have to be ready for the run around and should be aptly prepared for the game. Playing two holding midfielders will not be a bad idea but ‘Borbor’ will have to make sure, as indicated above, that his team do not pack the bus. If the defence does not get the right protection against the Spaniards, the Satellites will be in for a long 90 minutes.
Against France, the clearest opening Ghana had was from wide with Frank Acheampong showing the way early on with some incisive play down the wing. His inability to provide end product in the final third though coupled with Anaba’s ineffectiveness out wide meant that the Satellites will not trouble the French throughout the game. Ghana’s only goal, predictably, came through more wing play, this time Narh and Baba Abdul Rahman combining to provide for Boakye-Yiadom who was lurking in the box to provide the finish. Based on their game against the French and the undeniable central prowess of the Spaniards, it is most likely that Ghana’s most obvious chance of getting anything out of the game, will lie in their ability to get the best out of their wingers on the day and optimise their productivity from wide.

I think it is fair to say that Spain will be monopolising possession on Monday, which already puts the 2009 world champions on the back foot. Having the ball seems to be an obsession for Spain and it is a rarity when Spain fail to amass at least 55% of possession in a game. This situation calls for the Black Satellites to make the most of possession, when they have it. Giving away possession needlessly or any over-elaboration on the ball may prove costly for the Ghanaians on the day as they will need to make the most out of every little percentage of possession they get their feet on. Efficiency will be the key word for the Satellites on Monday and without it they may very well… you know what comes here right?

Did we miss something? Is there something you think the Black Satellites should be doing on Monday? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

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