3 Key Areas Fernando Hierro Needs To Address After Taking Over From Julen Lopetegui As Spain Coach
It seems odd to be Spain’s discussing weaknesses when they’re unbeaten in 20 matches.
But following the dramatic events of Wednesday when Julen Lopetegui was sacked for taking the Real Madrid job and the subsequent appointment of Fernando Hierro, it's worth looking at some areas Spain need to address ahead of the World Cup.
Since Lopetegui took over from Vicente Del Bosque, he didn't lose a single game as coach, so it would appear that he has the right blend and isn’t frightened of making the odd controversial decision or too. Alvaro Morata’s omission is a case in point.
However, for all of their verve and swashbuckling style, there are key areas where Spain can be exposed by the right opponent.
Let’s take a look at what they are:
No pace in central defence
Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique are arguably one of the finest defensive pairings in world football, and in Russia.
Both are colossal for their clubs on a weekly basis and have always raised the bar for the national team too. They are the rocks on which much of their recent success has been built.
Adept at bringing the ball out from the back with decent distribution, and a threat aerially when needed, Pique and Ramos are nevertheless a little static at times.
Opponents will find they’ll derive success from playing balls in behind as long as their attackers are playing on the shoulders of the last defender.
Spain simply can’t afford to be without either player but a ‘professional foul’ may be the only way of curtailing an attack.
Certainly, pace in behind is the only real chance opponents have of ruffling Ramos and Pique’s feathers.
Lack of bite in midfield
Sergio Busquets does an excellent job in Spain’s midfield and will put his foot in when needed.
If La Roja need someone to do their dirty work, they invariably turn to the Barcelona maestro.
A bout of gastroenteritis notwithstanding, Busquets will shore up the midfield again in Russia, but he could do with another player alongside with similar attributes.
Spain play some of the most beautiful football seen in this generation, but don’t have enough muscle in the middle of the park.
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you; For every great footballing team, you still need a couple of hard men.
Koke can assist but his presence then means one of either Isco, Iniesta or Silva don’t play, assuming a 4-4-2 formation. (And not forgetting Saul Niguez - who won’t have travelled to Russia just to admire the view!)
Pace or power up front?
Goals win games and Spain are more than capable of feasting themselves, however, it still appears that minds are not yet made up on whether to go for pace or power. That’s criminal at this late stage.
Diego Costa has plenty of the latter, whilst Iago Aspas and Rodrigo are quicker off the mark than their team-mate.
Subbing one for the other will mean a change of style and team dynamic, and Spain don’t need to be worrying about those details at this stage.