This was supposed to be one of the simpler ties of the last 16. Spain just win. Russia had done well, but they must now be content to go out in the last 16 as Spain should rightly go through. We will be treated to a dominant display of possession by Spain and they will score almost at will against an average Russian team who won’t be able to contain the array of Spanish talent.
That was how the script was supposed to go.
It didn’t work out that way though as Russia defended staunchly and allowed Spain to have the possession. The match would finish 1-1 with Russia winning the ensuing penalty kicks drama after keeper Akinfeev saved 2 Spanish penalties. It was a poor match from an entertainment spectacle and many believe that Tiki-Taka football is now dead. I tend to agree with that.
The second match of the day saw Croatia take on Denmark. Again, we didn’t witness a classic match, as neither team seemed like they wanted to win the match. The match started incredibly though with a Denmark goal in the first minute. Even more incredibly we then saw a Croatia equaliser just 3 minutes later. Anyone turning up late would be kicking themselves! If we were watching on catch-up TV then we could just fast forward the next 112 minutes to get to our next piece of high excitement as Croatia were awarded a penalty with just 4 minutes of extra-time remaining. Modric couldn’t take his chance though and missed the penalty to set up the 2nd round of penalty kick eliminations of the day.
The hero this time was the Croatian keeper Subasic who saved no less than THREE Danish penalties to keep the Croatian dream alive!
One thing I wanted to touch on is a growing feeling I have been getting watching this World Cup. Where is the passion from the players of the “Elite” nations? I’m not sure if it is down to tactics or the mindset of teams but I just don’t get the feeling from many of the top players that this is their chance to create history. This is their chance to show the world how proud they are of their country and how much they want to win… not for themselves, but for the millions of fans back home and the thousands of supporters who have spent a small fortune travelling to the venues to watch them play.
Two of the biggest culprits of this were Portugal and Spain but we could also add Germany, Argentina and others into the equation. Maybe it is the Tiki-Taka style of football which makes them feel as if they are better than they actually are. When Spain first started playing “Tiki-Taka” style of football it was glorious. Short, swift passes breaking into even sharper faster attacking movements which opened up defences like a tin of sardines to score at will.
These days though teams know how to play against it and get results. Russia were a perfect example yesterday. Spain had over 1,000 passes compared to just over 200 for Russia. That’s mind-blowing, yet in the first half Spain only managed a couple of attempts on goal. What is the point of having 30 passes in a row if you don’t move the ball out of the centre circle? It’s not entertaining either and it’s frustrating as a spectator to watch a team play the ball from defence to midfield, back to defence, up to midfield and then back again. We want GOALS!!
The style of football aside though there is a deeper reason why I believe we are seeing so many top teams crash out. Passion, or rather lack of it, seems to be a growing theme in the elite teams. I have watched so many matches now, be it Spain or Portugal or whoever, are in danger of losing a match against a lowly team but the players just don’t respond as they should. There’s no fight. There’s no passion. There’s no running 40 yards after a ball which is probably going out… just incase you might get there. There’s no pressuring players or going in for every ball. The players continue to play this Tiki-Taka style with an air of arrogance that they somehow DESERVE to win just because they can pass the ball 12 feet. They don’t.
Tiki-Taka is Dead.