Spain's Tactical Success Against Germany

They were the team that started off as tournament favourites, but became the critics' favourites as the competition progressed. Spain overcame a surprise 1-0 defeat to Switzerland and went all the way to beat Honduras, Chile, Portugal, Paraguay, and Germany to claim a place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final for the first time in their history. It was a win over the stereotypically efficient, machine-like Germans that meant an all-European, all-new World Cup final will take place in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium this Sunday. Spain will face the Netherlands, with one of these two teams on the verge of history: winning the World Cup for the first time as well as becoming the first ever European team to win the FIFA World Cup outside of Europe.

It will be a date with destiny when they face the Oranje but it was Vicente Del Bosque's brilliant tactical play that outclassed the clinical Germans.

Possession Play

Every time Spain take to the field, it's evident to the watching world that they like to hold onto the ball and make the opponents work. And against Germany, this was something that Del Bosque clearly was keen to maintain, knowing it would benefit them greatly. By holding onto possession, it meant the Germans had to do more of the legwork, and with Germany having the upper hand in terms of cardiovascular fitness, this was the perfect way for the Spanish to wear down their opponents and ensure fatigue wouldn't become a deleterious factor in the latter stages of the match. Also, whilst meaning Germany could defend in numbers, Spain's possession dominance meant they themselves had the perfect form of defence.

Whilst the likes of Spain's Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, etc., were all deciding on where to play the ball, those crucial seconds ticking down on the clock meant midfield maestros Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger saw less of the ball than they would've desired. This meant Germany's Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski received much less service than they would've desired, and thus having the culminating effect of increasing the psychological pressure on the strike duo when eventually presented with those fewer amounts of goalscoring chances.

A very minute detail it would seem, but one elite-level coaches like Del Bosque would've most definitely thought about. As one could see in the game, Germany's opportunities to score were diminished against the Spanish, thus making the Germans theoretically less likely to score. And of course, ultimately this theory from Spain's coaching and technical staff which has been bred in Spanish footballers across the country's whole football spectrum, turned out to be correct. Germany couldn't take their chances, and Spain managed to convert just one for all the possession they had.

Idiosyncratic wingers

Having two more centralised players out on the wings meant the German fullbacks found it tough going against Spain. Spain's Andres Iniesta isn't often known as a left-winger, but when it really mattered in that position, he delivered the goods. Head coach Vicente Del Bosque clearly wanted him to overlap with left-back partner Joan Capdevilla and make Germany's Philipp Lahm work down the flank, and it did happen.

However, it was clear Iniesta was given freedom to play his own game, and this worked beautifully into the hands of the Spanish attack, with German defence unsure at all times whether the Barcelona star would cut inside or run the ball downline, thus meaning David Villa, Xavi, Capdevilla, etc. could get the required space and play on the defensive uncertainty of the Germans.

And on the other side, it was the same story with little Pedro Rodriguez, also of FC Barcelona. The talented 22-year-old was a surprise inclusion ahead of Fernando Torres, Llorente, and Cesc Fabregas, and his ability to play out wide or cut inside at different times meant Jerome Boateng, and subsequently Marcell Jansen, were finding it tough to handle him. It was also a good call to put Pedro into the starting lineup, as it meant the German coaching staff wasn't able to fully do their homework on how little Pedrito plays, considering before this game he had barely been featured in the tournament.

No Space

The rapid closing down of the Germans when they had possession of the ball meant Spain had their opponents pinned back and hopeful on long balls in the penalty area at times. The Spanish were allowed time on the ball by Germany because the Germans knew they could easily threaten their opponents on the counter-attack. Del Bosque clearly figured this out too, and so ordered his players to close the ball down at every significant opportunity, ensuring Germany were given as little chance as possible to break out on the attack and test Iker Casillas in between the Spanish sticks. In the end, it worked, as Spain had 15 shots on goal compared to Germany's four, and had countless opportunities to kill the game off towards the end.

Spain Get Joachim Low's Credit

Ultimately, the three above tactical reasons were the biggest of many coaching factors which culminated in an historic Spanish victory. Germany head coach Joachim Low recognised this, telling journalists, "[Spain] circulate the ball well and we couldn't play the way we like to play." He added, "I am sure the Spanish can win any game because they are dominant and it's hard to contain their attack."

The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final and that glorious chance to enter the annals of World Football awaits Spain. The big question is, can they now go ahead and win it? Only time will tell.

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