Friday, June 27, 2008

That, Boys and Girls, Is How You Play Football

Although I didn't see much of the first half, Spain looked very impressive in beating Russia yesterday evening. Their sheer class and the gap between them and the Russians was typified by the build-up to the third goal (see from about 7.50 on here). The Russian midfielder Bilyaletdinov took a ball inside on the move, mis-controlled it, and was dispossessed by Capdevilla, who then worked a neat, quick, effortless triangle of one-touch passes with Senna and Alonso, bewildering a number of Russians. Senna then rolled the ball out to Iniesta, who lifted a perfectly weighted pass in behind the full-back who has pushed up on to him for Fabregas to scamper onto. Fabregas ran on with it, up to the edge of the penalty area, looking up all the while, and threaded a pass between two Russian defenders and into the path of David Silva, the winger who has drifted into the centre-forward position. He takes a touch out of his feet, and finishes calmly low into the corner, another Russian defender diving across him as the ball hits the back of the net. Alright, so by that point the Russians are demoralised: they know they're beaten. Still, though, although there's a kind of ruthlessness to it, it's not efficient: it has too much poise and grace for that. The subtlety of the weight of every one of the passes, their range, from the back-spun chip for Fabregas to the lay-offs in the triangle between Senna, Alonso and Capdevilla. It's all done at speed, but no-one's ever hurried. That, boys and girls, is how you play football; that, boys and girls, what I am hoping against hope will beat the Germans on Sunday.

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