Cast your mind back to Wednesday 16th June. Almost a week into the 2010 World Cup and pre-tournament favourites Spain had just been ousted 1-0 by a dogged Switzerland team. Thing’s weren’t looking so great for Vicente del Bosque’s side, but you always knew in the back of your mind that they would get the job done, and that’s exactly what they did. Even with misfiring Liverpool striker Fernando Torres given more than his fair share of game time, Spain, led by the Barcelona trio of Xavi, Iniesta and David Villa, prevailed to make it a Euro and World Cup double. So were Spain simply a class above the rest?
The 2010 World Cup will largely be remembered as a tournament where a whole host of world class players didn’t perform. Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney is the greatest example of this, failing to find the net in four games, the same fate suffered by World Player of the Year Lionel Messi. Tim Westwood also argues that Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t shine as they might have done. He says that “while the underdog teams with little expectation stepped up so much, the big players didn’t.” So minus Spain, why was that?
The big dawg favours the argument that it’s “all to do with their money and their careers – they’re not doing it for their country.” But I don’t really buy into that. Just because the players are multi-millionaires it doesn’t mean that their will to win is any smaller than if they weren’t. If that is the case then surely it’s the manager’s job to change the player’s attitude. Many managers were given the boot following their World Cup showings, with Dunga one of the most high-profile, but it looks as though Fabio Capello and Maradona will be given another chance. Somehow del Bosque fostered an excellent team spirit, a job made easier by the clubs his stars play for.
Of the starting eleven for Spain, seven play for Barcelona and three for Real Madrid, a detail that must make it easier for the players to gel together. They all know each other inside out, and when you add in the fact that they are all comfortable with the ball at their feet, it soon becomes clear as to why they prevailed ahead of the other thirty one nations. The bottom line is that Spain were a team and their good players played well. Westwood said that “Spain were the favourites and they definitely deserved to win it,” and it’s hard to argue with that!
To read Tim Westwood’s final World Cup article in full head to the News of the World website: http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/sport/877283/LAY-OFF-HOWARD-WEBB.html