England and Spain: Poles Apart Yet so Similar

England and Spain: Poles Apart Yet so Similar

Euro 2016 has already seen quite a few managerial heads roll but it’s the ones of Spain and England which have made the world take notice. The disastrous loss versus Iceland proved to be Roy Hodgson’s final game as an England manager while the game against Italy marked the end of the Vicente Del Bosque era. Both the teams are as different as chalk and cheese yet their futures are in dark and the concern they share is of equal magnitude.

England and Spain: Poles Apart Yet so Similar
England and Spain: Poles Apart Yet so Similar

Italy end a glorious Spain era; Iceland mark new English low

From Euro 2008 to Euro 2012, a glorious reign of Vicente Del Bosque preceded by Luis Aragones tool the national team to the highs that the Spanish people had only dreamt of. Punctuated by a World Cup between the two Euro cups, the all conquerable Spanish team demolished anyone that came their way. Germany, The Netherlands and Italy were the mighty teams that were made to bite the dust by the Spaniards. All of the above teams were very much at their peak and had no shortage of world beaters in them. Yet, the Spain prevailed.  Compared to them, the English team has always been the case of being eternal underachievers. The embarrassment of missing out on a place in Euro 2008 championship was the biggest embarrassment the English had to face, yet the loss to Iceland was a new low in their footballing history.

Nothing to take anything away from Iceland though. If anything, this team showed more heart, hunger and pride to win games than the English did. With only Gylfi Sigurdsson as their only marquee player, they trumped all odds to pull off an upset over their mighty rivals. Yet, it’s hard to explain the same to the English supporters. From David Beckham to Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard to Harry Kane, from Steven Gerrard to Dele Alli, there has been no dearth of talent in the England squad. Yet, they have curiously underachieved. If Spain is going through a low which was bound to happen at some point in time given all that they had achieved, the English are again staring at the crossroads. All the promise that their youngsters had shown in qualification and all the optimism that the Leicester’s Premier league triumph and Jamie Vardy’s record breaking season had given to the England fans, all that has been sucked out of them.

Lack of options at the international stage

In addition to the internal turmoil that both the teams are facing, they are also not helped by the lack of Coaching options at the international level. All the coaches with big reputations are either tied to the big clubs. Whereas England are hoping to land Arsene Wenger’s signature after his time at the Emirate Stadium is up, Spain have no such luxury. If it’s the lack of options at the heart of defense, a proven goalscorer and internal discord that have been Spain’s biggest headaches, it’s the mental fragility that have been England’s undoing.

Whereas the RFEF will begin their hunt for the next Luis Aragones that can give them some direction for their future, the England are searching for a Diego Simeone to give their players a dose of self belief. However, no coach is willing to enter the unchartered territory with these teams. How they must be envying Germany and France now, the luxury of excellent coaches and well drilled teams both these teams have. Or even Italy. A team which has overachieved not because of star players but because of a World class coach like Antonio Conte whose tactical nous and raw passion has pulled them to the Quarterfinals.

The Way forward

Although the situation looks bleak, there is a good cause of optimism for both sets of supporters. The young shoulders which had carried their Qualification burden are bound to come good at some point for England, given that the FA doesn’t commit the same blunder like Steve Mcclaren. In case of the Spaniards, they still possess invaluable riches in the midfield is every team’s envy and the defense and strike force may be strengthened if Alvaro Morata keeps his progress going. But caution is the watchword for RFEF and FA as of now. Because even a five time Ballon D’Or winner and a team full of superstars can’t guarantee a trophy sans a good coach.

One just has to recall the penalty shootouts 2015 and 2016 finals of Copa America.

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