Spain are the best international team in the world. Nobody in their right mind would deny that fact. They can choose from three solid keepers, have two of the best centre-backs in the sport and an abundance of immensely talented attacking players. Their pass and move style of football is simply sublime and the dominance, particularly in terms of possession, of their matches against even quality opponents is stunning to behold. However, the position in which Spain do struggle, in this writer’s opinion, is with their full-backs. Right-sided player Sergio Ramos is fantastic when he bursts forward but is often unconvincing defensively and he does sometimes lack discipline.
An even bigger issue in the Spanish back four, however, is on the left side of the defence. The regular starter in that position during all of Spain’s recent successes has been Joan Capdevilla. A more natural winger, the Benfica player often seemed to be chosen for a lack of a better option defensively. More recently, the Valencia full-back Jordi Alba has been brought into the Spanish starting eleven. Alba is clearly being considered to be the successor to the left-back position which Capdevilla held down for so long.
However, as good as he was in his international debut against Scotland, Alba was rarely required to track back and fulfil his defensive duties. More comfortable when he is attacking, it will not be until Spain play, for lack of a better term, a more talented team that we will see how solid he is at the back.
Given that both Capdevilla and Alba are more at ease when attacking than when defending you would be forgiven for thinking that the Spain manager Vicente del Bosque had no natural left-backs on offer to him. That is, until you consider new Liverpool recruit Jose Enrique.
Often overlooked this season amid all the praise of the fantastic Luis Suarez, is the width that has suddenly developed down the left-side of the Liverpool attack. The link-up and overlap play between Enrique and fellow summer signing Stewart Downing has been one of the highlights of the new look Liverpool team.
In addition, Enrique has worked well with the returning Craig Bellamy down that left flank in their most recent game against Norwich City, and the Spaniard and Welshman’s link-up play against Everton resulted in Andy Carroll’s goal to put the visitors 1-0 up. That Carroll goal, directed home from a brilliantly weighted crossed ball from Enrique, is just one example of how effective the new Liverpool No. 3 is when he goes forward.
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