Spain perform greatest one-two in football history

The one thing that gives their claims of being the greatest side even more credence is the fact that even in this information driven age, they’ve stuck to their brand of football and almost challenged other teams to break them down if they can. So far, none have succeeded.

Ashish Magotra July 02, 2012 13:56:40 IST
Spain perform greatest one-two in football history

The ‘one-two’ is the most basic of football tactics. We pick it up almost as soon as we start playing football. Simply translated it means that if someone passes the ball to you, you pass it back to him. All football practices are built around this simple tactic.

Spain’s football is also built around the one-two – quick, short passes at precise angles that simply open up the opposing defence. It was designed to help them break down bigger and stronger oppositions and it’s done exactly that. But that is hardly the one-two that we are discussing today. The ‘one-two’ that we have in mind is the two European Championships and the World Cup that the Spanish Armada has won on the trot.

As an accomplishment, it is unrivaled in football history and from the look of things, the Catalan nation isn’t done yet. There is a question that almost immediately begins to form: Are Spain the greatest football side the world has ever seen?

Spain perform greatest onetwo in football history

Are Spain the best football team ever? AP

Of course, Spain have some pretty crazy competition to beat. But still we wonder… are they better?

From the 1950s, we have the great Hungarian teams. They earned the nickname, ‘The Magnificent Magyars’ and it was built around six great players -- Ferenc Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, Nándor Hidegkuti, Zoltán Czibor, József Bozsik and Gyula Grosics. Their claim to fame is a simple yet unbelievable record: Between 1950 and 1956, the team suffered just one defeat, recording 42 victories and 7 draws to go with that. Unfortunately, that one defeat happened to be in the final of the 1954 World Cup.

Then, of course, we have the great Brazilian teams – World Cup winners in 1958, 1962 and 1970. The core group for the first two triumphs were Pele, Garrincha, Didi, Vava, Zagallo, Zito, N. Santos, D. Santos, Gilmar – all legends in their own right. And the ‘62 side has been considered by many as the best ever.

Before Spain came along, West Germany of the 1970s were considered the finest European team. Captained by Der Kaiser, Franz Beckenbauer, the team drew on the wonderful talents of Gerd Mueller, Gunter Netzer, Berti Vogts, Paul Breitner and goalie Sepp Maier.. They were unbeaten for almost six years – the only loss coming in the ’74 World Cup when they allegedly ‘tanked’ a match against East Germany to avoid taking on Brazil or the Netherlands in the next round.

No side dominated world football in the manner of these three sides till Spain came along. France led by the wonderful talents of Zinedine Zidane were great for a while. Johan Cryuff’s Dutch side were incredible to watch too. But Hungary, Brazil and West Germany were something else.

All three teams were revolutionary in their tactics. Hungary played an early form of Total Football – that Cryuff’s side later picked up on. Players changed positions at will and that resulted in a tactical nightmare of epic proportions for the opposition. Brazil came up with the supremely aggressive 4-2-4 formation. Imagine four players always on the attack – it was beautiful football as it was meant to be. West Germany, on the other hand, made use of the sweeper position as it had never been used before. Beckenbauer would suddenly come up from defence and the opposition had no man to mark him. Of course, what made him really deadly was his ‘one-twos.’ Yes, the very same tactic.

But Spain have done something that all these sides could only dream of… they have won a major tournament without a centre forward. Hungary had Puskas, Brazil had Pele and West Germany had Muller. Spain had no one and yet they managed to score four goals against a helpless Italy.

Most teams will have one or two players who link up very well. But Spain have six midfielder who link up well and that’s difficult to stop. Their wins have been built around four ever-present players – Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Segio Ramos and Iker Casillas. No striker there. David Villa has been great for them but Spain have shown that anyone can score provided he is in the right position and they create plenty of those.

But perhaps the one thing that gives their claims of being the greatest side even more credence is the fact that even in this information driven age, they’ve stuck to their guns; to their brand of football and almost challenged other teams to break them down if they can. So far, none have succeeded.

It’s almost like the old ‘one-two’ punch in boxing. Sometimes, you can’t stop it even if you know its coming. That’s what Spain do – you know what their tactics will be but you just can’t stop them and if that doesn’t make them the best, then god alone knows what does.

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