Campeones del MundoBy: Joshua | July 11th, 2010
Spain won the World Cup! ! I guess we can finally put the tired cliché of perennial Spanish underachievement in major tournaments to rest for good—gracias a Dios! Huge congratulations to the Spanish National Team! This was a team that we saw grow over the course of the tournament, a team that gave us changes in tactics, teamwork, formations and fortunes. This was a team that started with a shocking loss, and bounced back after many had written them off. Del Bosque put together a mix of Spain’s most experienced players and some of Spain’s most promising youth, and the result was something the Spanish people had only dreamed of—they were crowned champions of the world!
As this is the Sevilla blog, I must comment on our only player left in the tournament, Jesús Navas. Navas featured in his third game of the tournament today, coming on at 60 minutes for a struggling Pedro. I was a bit surprised by the substitution to be honest, as Del Bosque hadn’t shown any interest in using Navas since the group stages, but I think it was a key change for Spain.
Prior to this substitution, Spain was playing way too narrow. David Villa was having trouble breaking through the Dutch defense, and Iniesta and Xavi were mainly trying to make things happen from the middle. On the few occasions Spain had broken through the defense, Iniesta had shown a lack of desire to shoot with his left foot, allowing for the Dutch defense to break up the run. Sergio Ramos had made some decent crosses early on, but he lacks the pace of a real winger, and as he has to get back on defense for every play, he cannot get up quite as far or fast as a true winger. Navas provided that for Spain. Once Navas made his appearance, it opened up the Dutch defense quite a bit. His pace and wide threat forced an added defender to that side, which gave Iniesta more room to work his magic. Zonal marking had this to say of the Navas effect:
Another del Bosque substitution was crucial – Pedro was withdrawn after a quiet start to the second half, and replaced with Jesus Navas. And then, finally, Spain had natural width and someone to run at Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who eventually had to be replaced. Navas’ delivery was as inconsistent as ever, but he did a good job by stretching the play and providing dribbling rather than one-touch passing, which opened out the game and allowed Iniesta and Xavi more space to work in. It was Navas’ run and cross that presented Villa with a golden opportunity at the far post midway through the second half, and later his run and shot deflected inches wide, into the sidenetting.
I really cannot think of a better way to describe the entire World Cup for Jesús Navas. He was plagued by inconsistency, but his pace and ball handling skills provide Spain with a width and handling quality they rarely possess with other players on the pitch. He works entirely too well on the right with Sergio Ramos for my taste, as Real Madrid have already shown an interest in signing him, but the depth he provides Spain I think was key to their success in today’s game. He provides space for Iniesta and Xavi, and when his crosses are on target, Navas can burn a team quickly from the wing. In that light, it was a great tournament for him and Spain, and after playing 60 minutes in the World Cup final (counting extra time of course) Navas can say he was part of the only Spanish team to win it all. ¡¡¡¡ Campeones del Mundo !!!!