They wait. That’s what they do. Spain, passing, always passing. Tick, tock, tick, tock – the internal metronome always so evident, but irritatingly invisible. Then they strike. Late in the game. And you lose.
It’s Spain’s game plan – and come the final, we all knew it would be the same old story. But there was faint hope that the explosive Italian attack could maybe snatch an early goal and force Spain on to the offensive. If so, the game would have been turned on its head and what happened next would have been.
If we look at the whole of Euro 2012 as if it is one game, though, the final equates to roughly the last 15 minutes of a normal fixture – the time when Spain catch their prey unawares.
After kick off, Spain came out on the hunt, passing, always forward, always probing. It was a different team, a different style. It caught everyone, including the Italians, by surprise. By half time they were 2-0 up and Italy were dead and buried.
England wait, too. They wait for the ball – but they are not comfortable when they receive it. Too many clearances are hoofed into Row Z, rather than gathered and placed neatly at the feet of a team-mate. Too many breaking attacks are rushed. Apart from about 30 minutes in the first half against Italy and about 10 against Sweden, England looked scared of the ball. This is the problem, and it is deeply concerning.
If we can’t get our players to keep calm and use the ball wisely we will never succeed at international level. Teams like Spain do it… they wait. That’s what they do. England, though?
Management ups and downs
Coming from behind to win the AT&T National was a handsome enough feat in itself. But showing humility, acknowledging – nay, high-fiving – the crowd in the process? There’s a new Tiger in town.
For failing to reach the third round in any Grand Slam for the first time since 2005 after getting beating by the number 100 player in the world. But the Wimbledon tournament as a whole gets a boost, as the least watchable player of the big three stumbles out.