It’s not heresy to say that the Spain-Germany match was a bit dull

Guardian/SI journalist Rafa Honigstein

Oh, Rafa, Rafa, Rafa. That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? It does not make me a know-nothing philistine because I think that Spain’s win over Germany was a bit dull and a bit disappointing.

It’s not simply that there was only one goal. It’s true, goals by themselves don’t equal either quality or entertainment. But Spain dominated Germany and could have punished them further.

Spain’s possession, while both important and critical to its (and to almost any team’s) success, was not utilized in a way that led to very many quality goal-scoring opportunities. We’ve seen this occasionally out of Barcelona and an awful lot out of Arsenal where tons of possession doesn’t ever add up to anything. That to me, isn’t a satisfying outcome for a team with the kind of skill that Spain or Barcelona has.

Of course, I’m not saying that Spain should possess and pass less. What I am saying is that they need to do a slightly better job building that possession into a) actual shooting opportunities, and b) actual shots on goal. This isn’t that heretical. I’m not saying Spain ought to hoof it into the mixer more nor am I saying that “Spain was crap.” The team quite clearly wasn’t.

But I wonder too whether my disappointment is aimed in the wrong direction. Maybe the Germans deserve more of the responsibility in not pushing and challenging the Spanish to play even better. Here’s why that might be the case. When I’m watching a match not involving DC United, Arsenal, the USA, or whomever is playing England, I want a bit of drama and a bit of uncertainty over the result. In that department, Germany deserves a lot of the blame. They looked utterly clueless in attack yesterday. Just as much as Spain’s aimless moments played a part in yesterday’s dullness, so did Germany’s total lack of fight. There was never really a moment in the match where I thought Germany could win. And that fact played as much of a role in my disappointment as Spain’s performance.

But yet, to come back to Spain for a moment, I can’t get this strange cross-sport comparison out of my head. Germany was like a wounded, over-matched MMA fighter. Spain had an opportunity to thrill us with a series of knockout-caliber blows to “end the match.” Instead they chose to utilize a series of technically perfect holds, positions, and general dominance to eventually win by decision. They’re both perfectly valid ways to win. They are both are worthy of our merit. But I’d have still rather seen a knockout rather than a decision and it doesn’t make a me a know-nothing for saying so.

Spain was good, maybe even great. But, to me, they could’ve been better. The best news for all of us is that Spain can play even better than they did yesterday. Let’s all hope they reach that height in Sunday’s final.


18 thoughts on “It’s not heresy to say that the Spain-Germany match was a bit dull

  1. Or…alternatively, Spain actually believes the crap about “not peaking at the wrong time” (how’d that work out for you, Brazil?) and wanted to save their only good game of the tournament for the Final. In which case, Pedro’s f’ing up a 2-1 at the end (and denying Torres a chance to rebuild his goalscoring confidence) was all part of the plan.

  2. It’s fine if you didn’t like what you saw. But saying that Spain could have done more is a naive sentiment. Ignoring Pedro’s flub at the end, what moments were there where Spain could have easily gone into the area to score but chose not to?

    It isn’t that teams like Spain and Barcelona don’t finish well. It’s that the teams they face know what’s coming, and so play the best bunker down games of their lives.

  3. There were a few moments where I wanted to yell “Shoot the damn ball!” and it did feel a bit like watching Arsenal…

  4. Indeed. The only match in the knock-out rounds that I could not watch all the way to the conclusion. If that was the first soccer match a person ever watched, I could understand them saying that soccer has to be the most boring sport ever invented.

  5. The thing is that Spain took 16 shots and could only score 1, boring maybe, but probably has to do with Germany’s awesome defense.

  6. I don’t know if I was the only one, but every time Spain got within 35 yards of goal with the ball I knew they would do nothing with it. It has plagued them all tournament. I do hope the Dutch score early so Spain will be forced to be a bit more forward thinking with their passes, rather than the constant square passes and backwards passes…of course, only having 1 striker doesn’t help as he is usually surrounded by 3 defenders.

  7. If you find Germany v. Spain boring, you don’t understand football.

    Or you were cheering for Germany.

  8. If you didn’t find Germany v. Spain boring, you don’t understand football.

    Or you were cheering for Spain.

  9. Watch the match again. Tell me where Spain had a clear, high percentage shot at goal, and chose not to do it (before their goal, anyway. There were a few occasions like this after that).

    People think the match ended up like this because Spain, without realizing that it was really Germany that made the match this way. If Germany pushes forwards more, they would have had more chances, and implicitly, Spain would have actually had more clear chances when facing the goal.

  10. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

    Although, yeah – if Honigstein thinks that’s football, let him watch it over and over. See how long it takes him to beg for mercy.

    The evidence of our eyes is correct. Germany chose to be boring, and paid the price.

    Well, you could say the Spanish defense made Germany boring, by taking away the counterattack option.

    I don’t blame Spain at all – they took what the Germans gave them. But that was one of the two worst games of the knockout rounds, all the more disappointing because of the firepower both sides had shown. If Honigstein wants to be a pretentious c*nt about it, fine.

  11. Fully agree about Honigstein. Stupid declaration to make.

    And I guess I am being too harsh asking someone to watch it again. I’ve been trying to watch a replay on ESPN3, but after some time I just found myself skipping to the highlights (which are marked on the ESPN3 player).

    If there is any consolation to having watched this game, I don’t think the Netherlands will defend like that. They go for the kind heavy tackling that will at least get us quite a number of set pieces. And at some point, they will give in to their desire to attack and stop trying to cover all the spaces.

  12. I think this was one of the more boring games of the tournament, alongside the likes of England-Algeria and Paraguay-Japan. It certainly did not live up to the hype. I was bitterly disappointed, not only that Spain won and Germany lost, but also that the game itself was a snoozer. I had told a couple of friends to watch the game in hopes of converting them, and after the game they told me they will not be watching the final because this was such a zzzzzzzzzzfest.

    Germany had about 3 chances all game (if that), and Spain may have had 5-8. Blah. Tonight’s Fire-RSL game was comparable in terms of blahness.

  13. And you still don’t get it.

    Though you cherry picked a comment to defend yourself, the dumb thing you said wasn’t that the match was a bit dull, it was blaming Spain, instead of the obviously defensive Germany.

    Dang, it is amazing to me you write a blog on BS. Or maybe not….

  14. What’s more amazing, the person writing the blog or the person who cuts down the blog but continues to read person A’s blogs?

  15. Hey Rafa – If you are insulted that a tremendous amount of soccer/football fans found the Germany-Spain game boring, you don’t understand opinions.

  16. I understand football, and I also understand that the Germany vs. Spain game was dull.

    I’ve seen many 0-0 games that were interesting. So it’s not the “score” thing.

  17. I mainly agree. But I think that the German defense should also get some credit for Spain’s lack of clear scoring opportunities.

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