The Trouble with Midfielders

JOHANNESBURG, July 4, 2010 Xavi of Spain gestures during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match against Paraguay at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 3, 2010.

Spain's starting formation


If you pay attention to international soccer, you know that Spain has the best midfield in the world. In fact, the English Premier League’s most illustrious attacking midfielder – Cesc Fabregas – doesn’t even break Vicent del Bosque’s starting eleven. But for all their offensive prowess, Spain have only scored 7 goals in 5 games, certainly not a ratio that most squads would be ashamed of, but four of the strikes came at the expense of minnows Honduras and attack-minded Chile. Excluding those two matches, the World No. 2’s goals to matches ratio is 2 to 3, not exactly world beating.

FFG proposes that their low scoring output is due to the stacked midfield: perhaps they have too many excellent passers, as backwards as that may sound.

FFG's proposed changes

Spain begins matches in a modified 4-2-3-1. Instead of two wingers, del Bosque uses David Villa as a hybrid winger/striker (much like Brazil does with Robinho) and Andre Iniesta roams to find pockets of space. The two future teammates – come August, Villa will journey to Barcelona to join Iniesta and what seems like half of Spain’s roster – have been excellent, but La Furia Roja often seem to get stuck, playing multiple horizontal passes in a hope that defenders will make a mistake and allow Torres or Villa to sneak behind them.

Yes, Spain have played against teams looking to defend first and attack second (Chile the only exception), and, yes, they can win the tournament with this formation. But FFG thinks it would be a bit easier if one of the center mids was withdrawn in favor of a traditional winger, allowing Xavi and Iniesta extra room in the middle while providing a more direct option along the flank.

Opinions, gringos? Do Spain need to shake things up if they want to beat Germany?

2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. robinoz0 says:

    Spain does seem to have trouble with getting the ball into that final third sometimes. their midfield passing is effective–in the midfield. i definitely agree that they need another winger or something

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