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.