INTERNATIONAL friendlies help coaches test different things and seek to make a few changes, although we need to bear in mind that, at this stage in the year, footballers are under competitive stress, burdened with demands, and they must once again go out onto the field and play without any time to work or train.
One of the upcoming games stands out, the one between Spain and Germany, the last two world champions, Tuesday in the northwestern Spanish city of Vigo.
I get the impression that Spain are somewhat in construction. Many players have stepped down from the national team, and Vicente del Bosque is trying to test a few new footballers.
The team had a good starting point against Belarus (they won 3-0), although that was not a really top rival. Isco performed very well.
He is taking his first steps internationally, but finding a Xavi or an Iniesta is not something that is just around the corner. We need to see how new players adapt to the idea, but it is clear that times have changed for Del Bosque.
Earlier, he used to call up players and it was always the same men. It only took saying hello” and putting on a shirt to start the training session. Now Spain are immersed in a search, they have a difficult task at hand. Many countries have great trouble overcoming such crises.
They lost a generation of top players who stood for a very clear idea, namely the way Barcelona used to play. And now they need to reset that. I think the first thing they need to do is to stand by the idea that made them so successful.
With Germany, on the other hand, players have been together for many years. However, I see their team a little bit tired after the World Cup.
I find them as if they were asking for a break, because they have been under great stress. It is dramatic to lose at a World Cup, but it brings out your thirst for vengeance in the following tournament.
If you win it, however, celebrations spring up everywhere, and you may lose your focus. Football also requires time to rest not just from physical tiredness, but above all from mental exhaustion.
Among the teams that are set to play this week, there is also Gerardo Martinos
Argentina, who are playing Portugal on Tuesday. I see some changes in the South American team.
They used to wait at the back, and now they are playing further up than they did under Alejandro Sabella. However, against Croatia (a match they won 2-1), they made a few mistakes in their efforts to manage time and space, as they tried to put pressure on rivals to get the ball back.
It looked like they went for it one by one. Putting pressure on rivals to get the ball back needs to be done in various spaces, because otherwise everyone ends up charging like crazy to increase the pressure and problems come up in defence. You need to reduce spaces for that.
However, this is just a start, and lots of things are still being tested. Carlos Tevezs return, after three years, has been one of the new things. I really liked to see him back there. I am very fond of Tevez.
Beyond his stature as a player, he is a really typical, natural born footballer. He upholds the genes of neighbourhood football.
He remains Tevez, the lad who grew up where he did, even in the elite of world football, and I think he deserves to be acknowledged for that.
By this, I do not mean to say that what the previous coach did was wrong: coaches have every right to respect themselves by picking whoever they think they have to pick.
However, for me, as a fan of football, seeing Tevez is a cause for joy, because I know of his struggle. He is a lad with many limitations in terms of his education who ended up travelling around the world with a strength and a presence that inspire respect in everyone around him.
It makes me happy, because he has never lost the character of an Argentinian lad who was born in the neighbourhood and got where he got to. Tevez’s life is like the lyrics to a tango, and now it includes this reunion with the national team. – (GMS)