Soccer is at a crossroads, and the past two weeks of Euro '12 has really driven home that point for me. Soccer is a game of possession, defense, passing, teamwork, and determination.
Many who have been introduced to the game over the past four years may have a different idea of what soccer is. They see it as a game where you pass the ball around for 70% of the game, try to score a goal, and then continue to pass the ball around in order to protect your lead. Anyone who's watched Spain over the past few years knows exactly what I'm talking about.
The Spanish National Team has changed the game of soccer, and I think the kings need to be dethroned.
Yes, the Spanish have awed millions with their unbelievable passing and ball-skills. They make the game look easy — too easy. Their skill has led them to win the last two major trophies in international soccer. They have not allowed a goal in the knock-out stages since the 2006 World Cup. They play defense by playing keep away, and they're exceptional at it.
In this spring's Champions League semis, Chelsea had to play Barcelona. You could consider the Spanish National team "Barcelona light" (minus Messi). They have dominated Spanish and European club competitions for the past five years. However, Chelsea created a blueprint to feature the “tiki taka” style of play: defend, defend, defend, and counter-attack. Chelsea vanquished Barcelona, and then went on to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final on penalty kicks (strangely enough, the two clubs Chelsea beat are from the favored nations remaining in the Euros).
Throughout the past four years, the Spanish have confounded their opponents with short passes and movement that would make you think the entire team has ESP.
Now the threat of copycats is upon us, and watching every team try to play the role of passing dynamo or counter-attacking powerhouse has made the game somewhat predictable.
One example of this copycat culture came in the form of Italy and England on Sunday. They played to a 0-0 tie on Sunday, with Italy eventually winning in PKs. England played the role of defensive maniac, chasing the ball as Italy idly passed it around rather comfortably, looking for the perfect goal.
These are the roles that teams are now taking on. You either counter-attack or play keep away.
Portugal counter-attacks with Ronaldo and Nani. Italy will want to play keep away with Andreas Pirlo in the engine room working his magic.
Germany, however, doesn't give a crap. And that's why the soccer world should be rooting for Germany to win Euro 2012.
Germany plays an up-beat and attacking brand of soccer that creates more excitement than any of the four remaining teams. The Germans do not have one or two players to depend on. However, Italy and Portugal lean on a select few players to create offense.
If Germany wins, countries will realize that developing young talent and playing up-tempo attacking soccer can result in success over the course of many years.
Germany is loaded with young talent. They have so much talent that they left their leading scorer, Mario Gomez, on the bench at the start of the Greece game. Instead, Germany trotted out a new star, Marco Reus, and an old stand-by, Miroslov Klose. Both players scored goals. Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil is quietly having the best tournament of anyone not named Ronaldo.
If Germany wins, the "tiki taka" spell might be broken, and countries will realize that developing young talent and playing up-tempo attacking soccer can result in success over the course of many years.
Over the last 20 years, Germany and Spain have developed players better than any other country in the world. Now, the future of soccer sits at the feet of these two exceptionally talented teams.
If Spain wins, the world will move towards the "tiki-taka" style of play, which is not a good thing. I think it would turn soccer into a battle between two types of teams: the teams that play keep away, and the teams that defend and counter-attack.
If you don't want the future of soccer to look like the England-Italy game from Sunday or the World Cup Final from 2010, then root for Germany. They might be the only chance we have.
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
May 22nd, 2013 2:56 PM
May 16th, 2013 12:13 PM
May 20th, 2013 9:09 AM
ALL TIME FAVES
April 16th, 2013 12:15 PM
April 9th, 2013 11:57 AM
March 1st, 2013 8:37 AM