29 June 2008

The prevent defense

I'm watching the Euro 2008 final as I type this, and I'm disappointed by what I'm seeing out of Spain. The Spaniards have been playing exciting, attacking soccer all tournament, and it's been effective for them; they haven't lost, have gone to penalties only once (against Italy, who slow games down to a crawl), and have generally been very impressive.

But now it's the final... and the Spanish team, after an initial burst of aggressiveness that netted them a first-half goal, have retreated into a defensive shell, barely pushing players forward even to counterattack and giving off the appearance of a team that is just trying to hang on.

Why? I don't know - they're talented, they're skilled, and they're very good at playing in their style. But now they're not playing in their style.

They're playing a prevent defense - a defense that traditionally prevents the teams that employ it from winning - and I'll be shocked if the Germans don't come up with at least an equalizer before regular time is out.

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