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Winning games in style: Spain’s path toward their first senior trophy

Photo copyright by Lewis Gettier/The Equalizer.

A decade ago, Spanish men’s football was the envy of all around the world, the national team were part-way through their three successive major trophies (two European Championships and a World Cup), and Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona was lauded the world over. The era gave birth to tiki-taka (or what we think of when we think of tiki-taka), as well as heralded midfielders like Xavi [Hernández] and Andrés Iniesta, and it changed how many thought about the game — as well as setting a clearly defined “Spanish style” in place. In the typical fashion of women’s football being the same but different, there are many parallels that can be drawn between Vicente del Bosque’s world champions and Jorge Vilda’s Spain.

Mixing styles

Much like trying to strike a balance between representatives from the “big two” Spanish men’s clubs, Vilda’s squad has long been a mix of mostly Barcelona and Atlético Madrid players (although this is something he’s inching away from), as del Bosque’s was Barça and Real Madrid. The clear problem with this for both managers includes the vastly different styles both teams utilize; Barcelona will always possess and move the ball with ease and understanding whereas Atleti Femenino and Real men have been much more about a direct style of play. Del Bosque, the pragmatist, managed to instill the possession and passing from Barcelona, but balancing out the squad with players from the capital meant that La Roja never tapped into the truly mesmerizing football played by the Catalan club.

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