Its only natural to look for flaws in perfection because when we see perfection and it isn't us, then we are reminded that we are less than perfect. Spain's performance over the past three weeks has been over analysed and they have frustrated some, including me when they passed the ball back to their own keeper from an attacking corner in the 93rd minute against Portugal, but their second goal in the 4-0 humping of Italy was perfection, seldom seen but never forgotten.
The soccer intellectuals in the media will spend the next few weeks telling us all about Spain's method and style and their use of a 'false 9', and how Del Bosque has shown us a team without designated strikers, ignoring that fact that Roma and Manchester United did this in 07 and 08. The shape and movement of the Spanish is highly impressive and their invention and ball retention is of the highest quality, but in my opinion the keys to the castle are their superior technical ability.
There are two good bits of good news in this for soccer in Canada; first of all we don't have to play them in order to qualify for Brazil 2014 and secondly we can take something from Spain's methods and apply them to our game here in Canada.
We cant talk to our players about 'false 9's' or expect them to play in the sophisticated style that we see from Del Bosque's' team but we can make the technical part of the game our training priority. Spain are technically better than any other team at the moment. The difference between them and everyone else is not that great, but its great enough to make ALL the difference.
Spain's game is based on possession, and defending by keeping the ball away from the opponent, that's not a secret. They play a succession of 2v1, 3v2 and 4v3 situations and are equally comfortable in possession in even numbers or numbers down phases, because their technical ability is high and they are confident in their own ability to keep the ball. This encourages them to take up good supporting positions and circulate the ball, it also means that if you can manage to get the ball from them you have to be quick in transition as they are all around the ball. All of this is great for Spain but how can we take lessons learned and translate them to our practices.
More small sided exercises in our practices and more 3v1's 4v1's and 5v2's with the emphasis on keeping the ball moving and all players moving to give the player in possession more choice. The 4v1 exercise is simple to set up and a great session starter that gets the kids moving and keeps them challenged. the key to this is to motivate the defender to work hard in order to challenge the players on the outside of the box. With the right amount of encouragement, very quickly you can progress and make the area smaller and limit the touches. Once you get them into a 5v2 situation then the challenge is to find the split pass and if you can get them to a 4v2 situation and have some success then you are going in the right direction. The game is simple and effective and will provide positive results. We cant play like Spain because we aren't Spain, but we can strive to match their technical ability.
At the next coaches association meeting, in early September we will be looking at small sided exercises and ideas how to use them in our practices. In my next blog I will be talking about other ideas that will t improve the experience of our younger players in the Active Start, Fundamentals and Learning To Train Stages age groups. My belief is that if we make the experience better than "better learning" will take place Again I believe the key is coaching, improve the coaching and we will improve the players and on that topic here is a list of the coaching courses that we have set up in August and September:
Soccer for Life
August 25th and 26th hosted by the Lakehill Soccer Association
Learning to Train
August 18th and 19th hosted by Prospect Lake Soccer Club
September 8th hosted by Cowichan Valley Soccer Association
September 15th hosted by Peninsula Soccer Association
September 22nd hosted by Gorge Soccer Association
All of these courses are free to coaches in the LISA district, and we recently ran a Learning To Train course with support from the Juan de Fuca and Sooke clubs and the new material was well received by the coaches who took the course. I would like to encourage you all to make time to attend these course, if we get better then our players get better, its that simple.
The 2012 Euro's were on the whole a good tournament but not a great one, like the 2000 tournament, and they didn't produce a game that will live long in the memory. The tournament format of 16 teams means no easy games and every game counts, unfortunately in 4 years time the tournament will include 24 teams, this will bloat the tournament as there aren't 24 good teams in Europe. No matter, the French will still pout, the Dutch will implode, the Germans will be challenging, Spain will be passing and maybe England will complete a pass or two!
Champions League starts on Tuesday!!
Enjoy the summer.