Before the Spain-Italy match, I had this idea of writing about Spain’s midfield; I thought it would be amusing to bring up third-world countries where heedless millionaires shamelessly flaunt their diamonds and BMWs before their poor brethren—like in the United States, for example. With Xavi, Alonso, Busquets, Fabregas, Silva, Iniesta, I would have made jokes about increasing taxes, give the Italians Fabregas. Hell, Mata, who might not break into the lineup, could be the best midfielder on a number of other teams. Tax the rich. Socialism.
It might have been funny; it might not.
But then the game started.
They didn’t look that much richer.
I’d forgotten how good “peerless” Pirlo can be.
Spain started six midfielders and no forward. It didn’t work, as the ESPN experts made sure to tell us. I didn’t think the problem was the need for a forward as much as the fact that with the exception of Iniesta, the midfielders weren’t at the top of their game. Was it spacing, the dry field, a new tweak to an old system? I don’t know. Compared to their exceptional standards, Xavi and Busquets have been giving up the ball a lot more this year. Fabregas began the season superbly but then for some reason has been a bit sloppy lately—once more, sloppy only when one considers his lofty standards. Blame the hair gel?
So of course the finishing could use a lot of improvement, but the issues I was noticing were imperfections in the tiki-taka: passes not reaching some players, missed touches and so on. I do hope they try the six midfielders again, just to see what it would be like when all are at their best.
I shiver with anticipation.