Why Spain could struggle at the World Cup without Thiago, Jesus Navas and injury-hampered Diego Costa

reu_1870651

Reigning World and European champions Spain remain the team to beat in Brazil.

Vicente del Bosque’s men will be seeking their fourth consecutive major honour this summer and yet their status as favourites seems somewhat downplayed. Have injuries to Thiago Alcantara, Jesus Navas and Diego Costa hampered their chances?

Since at least Euro 2008, tiki-taka has been the most potent Plan A in international football. Opponents have appeared powerless to resist the attritional system of extreme ball retention and massed midfielders when Spain have been in form.

However, as with any successful tactic, fitness, focus and the general stagnation of time have all played their part in blunting the sharpness of this approach in recent years, even if the silverware has kept coming. Not only are Spain undefeated in their last 10 knock-out round fixtures at Euro and World Cup tournaments, they also haven’t conceded a single goal outside of penalty shoot-outs during this run.

Problems have instead come from finding goals at the other end of the pitch and breaking down stubborn opposition, who increasingly seek to stifle their attempts to  take the initiative by locking down their defences for 90 minutes.

Spain’s defeat to Brazil at the 2013 Confederations Cup also highlighted the threats posed by the Brazilian climate and a failure to rotate their increasingly aged, key individuals, especially Xavi, who looked sapped of energy and ideas in the final of last summer’s World Cup warm-up competition.

That loss to Neymar & Co. could prove to be the intervention Del Bosque, who announced his final 23-man Spain squad for the World Cup yesterday, needed to refresh his side and properly prepare for the fatiguing conditions of Brazil 2014. At the start of the new year, it appeared that he would have the perfect game-changing alternatives to shake things up and refresh his roster in Atletico Madrid’s newly naturalised striker Costa, Bayern Munich’s ambitious passing hub Thiago and Navas, who has so often been the player able to add a new dimension to Spain with his pace in recent years.

However, the fitness concerns for Costa have cast doubt on whether he will be able to make the desired impact on his return to his native Brazil, while Thiago and Navas have not made the final squad due to injury.

Just how important were these players in ensuring that Spain would be able to overcome their the heat and the stilted orthodoxy of once radical, successful ideas?

Related Teams:

Comments

Please consult these rules when commenting. These rules outline what is acceptable and unacceptable content on Squawka News. Note that these rules are subject to change at any time. Just like football.

See commenting rules
  1. Language

    Don't use swear words or profanity of any sort. Please refrain from insulting other users, everyone is entitled to their opinion and just because you shout the loudest, doesn't make you more correct or valid in your point of view. All insulting or offensive comments will be immediately removed.

  2. No libel or other abuse

    At no point should you be making comments which are:

    • defamatory, false or misleading;
    • insulting, threatening or abusive;
    • obscene or of a sexual nature;
    • offensive, racist, sexist, homophobic or discriminatory against any religions or other groups.

    We have an absolute zero tolerance policy on this. Football is the world's language.

  3. Report abuse

    If you see a comment not adhering to rules 1 & 2 please email info@squawka.com and this comment will be reviewed by a member of the Squawka editorial team.

  4. No third party promotion

    This comment section is here to let football fans talk about football, not to allow people to sell or push products. Any comment found peddling a third party will be immediately reviewed.

  5. No linking or copyright infringement

    You must not insert links to websites or submit content which would be an infringement of copyright.

  6. Play the game/Respect the game

    Please respect these rules when commenting on Squawka News; people will disagree from time to time but please try to see each other's point of view before getting all worked up, that helps no one.