|Cesc - De Rossi|
Looking now with hindsight ( very easy I know ) the strategic bet by Spanish Football Coach Vicente Del Bosque to play without a true Centre Forward as an upfront reference did not pay off for Spain. In fact, it was a mistake that may have directly affected the final result & given Italy wings that a priori they did not possess.
Spain looked slow in the first half & Italy managed to pack the midfield with men ( no Spanish forward to worry about ) & block effectively the flanks. This bogged Spain in the midfield & Italy used their numerical superiority in the centre to effectively counter-attack.
The situation was delicate half way through the first half as Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas had to make a couple of very important saves that kept Spain alive & stopped them possibly falling apart. Spain did react as it was obvious that the Spanish team has more talented players & it was they whom managed to redirected the side & halt the Italians.
Said more clearly, Spain had no reference upfront, no real forward to put the Italian defenders under pressure & it became patent that Spain´s initial idea was failing. Something had to be done, some change, something new if Spain was to find the net.
|Di Natale scores for Italy|
Surprisingly Spain started the second half as the first, without any change & without the much asked for reference upfront. One could think that this was Spanish Coach Vicente Del Bosque second mistake today, not reacting in time.
Italy did on the otherhand as their Coach Prandelli was reading well the whole game from the first minute. Prandelli took off Balotelli, after missing a sitter, & put on DE NATALE who minutes later put Italy ahead with his excellent 61st min goal.
|Cesc Fabregas draws for Spain|
To the credit of Spain who are not the current European & World Champions for nothing, the team reacted admirably & managed to pull back an equalizer in the 64th min when Silva combined with CESC FABREAGAS who beat goalie Buffon to score.
Spanish Coach Del Bosque then reacted with a substitute & put on winger Jesus Navas for Silva to open up the Italian defence. It worked as Spain found chances & Iniesta more freedom in the position where Silva was originally. Defensive left-back Jordi Alba began finding room down the flank & Spain looked much better.
Then Spain decided to finally put on a true forward, a reference upfront, & changed Cesc Fabregas for Fernando Torres. Although Italy still was dangerous in their counters, Spain improved markedly & Torres had three clear chances to win the game for Spain as he confused the Italian defenders & found space.
In the end with time running out for both sides they turned conservative & cautious somewhat & practically settled for a draw result.
Some conclusive observations:
- Spain can only get better as today they were never in the groove. Most rivals know well the Spanish weakness of creating a defensive wall & it was evident today as well
- Its going to be a difficult tournament for Spain if they don't come up with new ideas. Today they did not look fresh & looked predictable.
- The "without a forward" experiment was a failure & nearly cost Spain the match
- Andres Iniesta looks superb & he is the key if Spain is to advance in this Euro 2012
- David Villa is dearly missed as he would have been handy today.