Vicente Del Bosque’s Loyalty Back-Fired On Spain

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    Updated: June 21, 2014
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    Recently I’ve been on a loyalty binge when it comes to World Futbol. I wrote this piece a little while back on Arsenal fans and loyalty after it was confirmed that Cesc Fabregas would be plying his trade for Arsenal’s rival Chelsea FC. Loyalty in football doesn’t necessarily mean that both parties will reciprocate it. Loyalty for Arsenal has come back to bite them in the ass on several occasions. And now loyalty has done the same to the All Conquering Spanish National team. There will be a Spanish Inquisition (Hopefully nothing like the one from 1400) once the tournament is over and Spain returns home. But where did it all go wrong?


    Del Bosque’s Loyalty Was Anti-Spanish Football…


    In team sports there are things called lifetime achievement awards that aren’t actually lifetime achievement awards. Let me explain. Say a player, any player, has provided a great service to his league or country and never received an individual award for their personal achievements. In some instances a team, a league, or an entire federation feels obligated to honor the person, so they do.

    That’s Anti-Spanish football because country has thrived in recent years by bringing in new players repeatedly to keep the squad fresh and with new ideas. Clubs like Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid and Barcelona are always indoctrinating new players from their youth system and it constantly bears fruit. That was not the case with this Spanish team.

    Del Bosque decides to take Fernando Torres, Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso to the Mundial when it’s possible none of the four players should have been in the Final 23. If Spanish fans want to argue that Xavi, Casillas, Xabi and Torres were owed at least a roster spot for their contributions to their three state tournament wins, (2 Euro Cups and the 2010 World Cup) then I’d say they owe you, the Spanish fans, an explanation for their subpar performance at the tournament. At worst none of those four players should be in Brazil, and at best, they should have been substitutes. As far as Fernando Torres goes, taking him to Brazil should have been the first clue Spain Del Bosque and Spain were in trouble. Torres has been dreadful since leaving Liverpool and moving to Chelsea FC.

    I’m not quite sure why Del Bosque left Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente home, and even to some extent David Villa whose club just won La Liga, but left them behind he did. No one is sure that first team striker Diego Costs is even 100%, and by his performances at the World Cup it can be argued he’s nowhere near ready to be in such a pivotal tournament for his adopted country Spain. Taking Torres to Brazil was Del Bosque sticking with a striker that has won trophies for him in the National team, and Spain paid the price for the Costa/Torres inclusion in the World Cup. This tweet sums up perfectly this list of players left home for this tournament that Spain desperately could have used:

    But, Loyalty to the players that won him three straight tournaments cost Del Bosque the opportunity to win back-to-back World Cups. Spain needed a younger hungrier squad of players who wanted to replicate the achievements of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Casillas and all those they group up worshipping. Instead, Del Bosque took a lifetime achievement award Squad, and they are out of the Copa Mundial in just two games.  

    Sometimes A Change in Philosophy isn’t Really A Change in Philosophy…


    At the peak of their dominance, the Spanish National team was made of core Barcelona and Real Madrid players in their midfield. While Real Madrid Xabi was controlling the tempo smoothly and quietly in the middle like he always does, the trio of Barcelona legends Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Iniesta were one touch passing teams around the globe to pieces. Some say the Spanish mid-field with those four may be the best in history. And after wining two straight Euro titles an a World Cup in the middle, the Spanish have a very valid argument that it’s true. But why bring players like Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla to the tournament and not use them when both players are in their prime and playing well for their clubs?

    Had it not been for Santi Cazorla’s free kick, Arsenal may still be going through their trophyless drought. And surely Del Bosque must have known with the way he was ushered out of Barcelona, Cesc would have been playing with a chip on his shoulder with something to prove to all of Spain that he’s still one of the best mid-fielders on the planet. With Cesc, Santi and David Silva roaming around in the midfield and Busquets behind them to clean up any mess, the Spanish could have possibly continued their success in big tournaments. All three players are technically gifted on the ball and all three players are in their 20’s still trying to make a name for themselves in as the torchbearers for Xavi, Xabi and Iniesta.

    Their inclusion into the side wouldn’t have changed the one touch fluid passing footballing philosophy that makes Spanish football so revered around the world. And again, leaving players likes this:


    Didn’t help the Spanish cause. Even with the players I named in the midfield, would Costa and Torres have been able to be on the end of perfectly placed through-balls? No one knows, but Del Bosque took a gamble and it back-fired miserably.

    I’m not sure what Del Bosque and the Federation have planed after the team returns to Spain. Maybe the Federation goes in a younger direction and gets a coach with fresh ideas that are not blinded by loyalty to past-their prime players? Or maybe Del Bosque stays on and revamps the team with all the young talent he has at his disposal in Spain.

    Either way the Spanish have the players in their country to continue making runs at trophies in every big tournament for years to come. And this 2014 World Cup should serve as lesson to the Spanish, and a blueprint to World Futbol on how sometimes in sports, it’s great to be thankful for someone’s service, but gratefulness and loyalty do not always go hand-in-hand.

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