Spain and Germany, multi-formula teams | Eurocup Germany 2024

Spain and Germany, multi-formula teams | Eurocup Germany 2024
Spain and Germany, multi-formula teams | Eurocup Germany 2024

Valdano said that he visited Guardiola on the eve of the City-Real Madrid tie, and the latter explained to him that after studying many of the Whites’ matches to understand their method, he came to the conclusion that it was not possible. It was not possible, because Madrid varied and adapted to the circumstances of the match.

I remembered this on Friday watching Germany-Spain, a great match for many reasons, including this one: the ability of both teams to adapt to what the match, with its twists and turns, its fatigue and its injuries, was demanding. On the Spanish side, we saw a team that knew how to attack, that we took for granted based on its two excellent wingers, but that also knew how to fight back when Germany pressed. We threw our hands up in horror, I did too, when De la Fuente first took off Lamine and then Nico, because we saw them as the essence of this new team, whose model Álex Grijelmo baptized as tiki-taka with pythonsPersonally, I understood Lamine’s mistake, which was a bit careless in the defensive area and even made a mistake in a dangerous area, better than Nico’s. But the team reconfigured itself in such a way that it was able to weather the storm better, and at least delay the goal until the end of regulation time.

For their part, Germany came out with an attack made up of a small group of attacking midfielders, without a striker of reference, in search of successful combinations around Gündogan, with Havertz, really an attacking midfielder, in charge of false nine; Argentines say nine and a halfbecause he combines two roles, that of striker and that of what they call there. For us classicists, among whom I count myself, it seems strange to see Germany play this way, undoubtedly a legacy of our glorious tiki-taka. And it seemed even stranger knowing that there is Füllkrug, a forward who is a disruptive and finisher, very much of the old school.

Well, when he found himself behind on the scoreboard, Nagelsmann, without a guilty conscience, abandoned this so-called spiritual attacking formula, brought out the tank and was soon joined by Thomas Müller. Balls to the pot. Füllkrug sank our defence and in one of many high balls Wirtz caught a return from Kimmich and equalised at the last minute.

Disaster, I thought. Now we are with a team made to contain, without the ability to stretch the field, facing half an hour of bombardment. They are going to crush us.

But the team knew how to adapt to the new need, moving up little by little, almost always through Olmo, an excellent player who had to appear early, due to Pedri’s injury, and who can play in any of the three positions up front or in midfield. Occupying precisely Nico’s position, he stretched the team on his side and that’s how the decisive goal came, scored by Merino, the man who had come on late in the second half for Nico to tie the game. And he tied it, yes, but when it was needed he appeared in the area to settle the match with a header that takes him straight to the crossbar. By then Joselu was already in attack and Spain was practically playing a 4-2-4, with Ferran, Joselu, Oyarzabal and Olmo up front. And Merino appeared among them to finish the game.

Spain played three ways throughout the match. Germany played two. Both teams adapted to the needs of the moment, in a glorious battle that our team won.

Combined with Guardiola’s reflection on Ancelotti’s Madrid, we can conclude that this Euro Cup, this time, marks that direction for football: coaches who use several recipes and flexible players at their service. The coach obsessed with a roster and a model that he brings with him wherever he goes is already a limitation.

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