Spain secured a 1-0 victory over Ukraine in Sevilla in their Euro 2016 qualifier on Friday. But the manner in which this win was achieved has left Vicente del Bosque with more questions than answers as they never looked fully comfortable in the entire game.
Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquetes, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa: the core of Spaina s Euro 2012 winning squad was made up of FC Barcelona players. Spain dominated the tournament in such a fashion that no country in the competition could not even dream of beating the mighty La Roja.
Few could have predicted that it would mark the end of Spaina s dominance of world football. The impact of Xavi Hernandez, the most important member of La Rojaa s squad, was fading quite fast and Vicente del Bosque made an error of judgement while picking a squad for 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
It was evident from the recent struggles of FC Barcelona that Xavi Hernandez is struggling for both, form and fitness, but coach Vicente del Bosque chose to keep the faith on the aging maestro and the tiki taka philosophy of FC Barcelona for the World Cup. Apart from Xavi, almost all the players, who played in the Euro 2012 were part of Spaina s squad for the World Cup and to the surprise of many (not this author), they performed extremely poorly in Brazil as they looked horribly short of ideas and looked more complacent than ever.
There was a pressure from the Spanish media to remove Vicente del Bosque after a forgettable World Cup but the Spanish FA chose to keep faith in their coach and the former Real Madrid himself said that now is the time to bring in new faces into the squad.
The likes of Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres and David Villa are gone now but Spain have no shortage of talented youngsters as the likes of Isco, Koke, Juanmi, Alvaro Morata and Paco Alcacer look capable enough to get them at the top again.
Ever since the conclusion of World Cup in Brazil, Vicente Del Bosque has given a chance to all aforementioned youngsters but if Spaina s display against Ukraine has anything to go by, the coach is definitely struggling to find the right balance. And Del Bosque himself admitted it on Friday that there are some problems in his squad.
“We dropped off in the second half and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth,a Del Bosque said after the game against Ukraine.
a In the first half we played well and had chances. In the second we had chances for Juanfran and Cazorla but [our profligacy] cost us.
a There will be changes [for the match against Netherlands] because there was no charge [in the second half] from the players.a
Vicente Del Bosque had said it earlier that Andres Iniesta and Isco can play in his midfield together. The boss started them both against Ukraine and they both looked comfortable in the first half but struggled badly to influence the game in the second half.
Andres Iniesta is still a world class player but, in the absence of Xavi Hernandez, he finds it difficult to influence the game in his usual manner and the same was evident, again, on Friday in Sevilla.
Spaina s midfield against Ukraine was made up of Sergio Busquetes, Koke and Isco; while Andres Iniesta, Alvaro Morata and David Silva formed the attacking trident. With no doubts about the quality of all the aforementioned players, they still look little unsettled and this is a reason of worry for Del Bosque.
Another headache for the Spain boss at the moment is about the form of captain Iker Casillas.
Iker Casillas should have followed Xavi, Xabi Alonso and David Villa into international retirement, but it appears that the Real Madrid legend wants his boss to sack him first. And there is no better time than now as David de Gea is performing extremely well for Manchester United while a San Ikera continues to struggle at Santiago Bernabeu.
Del Bosque has said it on numerous occassions that he is not afraid of changes. But, looking at his selection policy and the recent displays of Iker Casillas, Andres Iniesta and David Silva, it appears that the Spain boss is still not ready to make wholesome changes into his squad.
La Rojaa s Fridays performance against Ukraine was a proof that this selection policy of Vicente del Bosque is not working well for them. But Del Bosque still has ample of time at his hands to try different combinations.
Spain have not yet qualified for Euro 2016, but they are certain to make it to the finals and during that process, La Roja will get to play against many smaller teams which would provide a great opportunity for Del Bosque to experiment. This is still a transitional phase and Spain certainly have a talent pool to become the champions of Europe for the third consecutive time.