Will Tidey - Tici-taci rules the world
Published: 12 Jul 2010 - 08:39:46
Football fans will tell you the 1970 Brazil vintage were a truly great team - perhaps the greatest of them all. They followed the Puskas-inspired Hungary of 1954 and preceded the mid-to-late 70s Dutch, whose 'total football' captivated the world.
These are international teams everybody loves; that we are expected to love. They played with flair and freedom in their feet, and remain beyond reproach in just about every living room on the planet.
But in the three decades since Cruyff, Neeskens and Co reached two successive World Cup Finals in '74 and '78 with their holistic approach to the beautiful game, there has been a curious dearth of collective 'greatness' on the international stage.
Until now that is. Until Spain 2010, the most technically gifted ensemble since Pele and Co sprinkled magic dust all over Mexico.
Don't be fooled by the cynics who tell you Spain are a one-paced outfit with no cutting edge. Don't buy into to the theory that Spain slogged their way to glory with four uninspired 1-0 wins. And whatever you do, don't bemoan their lack of goals.
World Cup football as we once knew it is over. Never again will a team glide to glory, crashing in goals at will and strutting around like kings in the playground. Those who throw caution to the wind will be blown away. Ask Argentina.
Of the 32 teams at the Finals, the naive also-rans were few and far between. Even the likes of New Zealand, Switzerland and Algeria came with detailed battle plans to nullify the opposition. And when you combine that with a half-decent squad you're going to make things difficult for anybody.
But Spain would not be moved, not even after losing their opening game. They moved the ball better than anybody else at the tournament and held faith that technical brilliance would prevail.
Thankfully it did. Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso were kicked to pieces in the final, but tici-taci found a way.
The cynics remain this morning, but don't be surprised if in years to come Vincent Del Bosque's team are held up alongside the greatest to grace the World Cup.
In football, perspective is everything.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
- Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey
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