France 0 – 2 Spain: Lessons For Arsenal

It’s not often that international friendlies have any interesting fixtures. This round was different and had quite a few. Argentina V Germany and France V Spain were the pick of the lot. As I was watching the Spanish masterclass, the similarities with the way Arsenal play became patently obvious. And while France were distinctly poor, I did notice a few aspects of the Spanish game that can help us improve.

France had a strong defense and defensive midfield. They also had pacy, skillful and lethal forwards. Exactly the combination that has troubled us quite a bit over the last season or two. Del Bosque’s team though, were always in control and never looked like conceding. The home side did have some moments in the last fifteen minutes but by then the Spaniards knew they had won the game and the intensity was gone as it was a friendly.

I thought it was a perfect example of patient, possession football with a solid defense and an opportunistic attack. Arsenal can certainly learn a few subtleties from El Capitan’s national side.

Firstly and most importantly, we should learn from their positioning. During the first half they never pushed too far up the pitch. To a great extent this negated the threat posed by the speed of the French attackers. It also eliminated any chance of a counter attack as the midfield was quite close to the defense at all times.

Another advantage of this tactic was that most of the possession football was concentrated in the central third, at times in the Spanish half. This meant the French defense wasn’t pushed back into its own penalty box and there was space behind their defenders that could be exploited by the pace of Villa and Silva.

Secondly and in conjunction with the first, the Spaniards showed a good deal of patience. Of course, an early goal helped, but based on the way they started the game it was clear that they were not worried about scoring early. They didn’t want to concede early and that was the priority.

A freak moment and some poor defending allowed Villa a clear run at goal and he is not the guy to miss out on such gifts. Even after the goal the Spaniards persisted with the same tactics and benefited from another opportunistic strike from the full back.

Apart from this tactical aspect there were some nuances that we could do well to adopt. At no point did the Spanish defense panic. This was possible because their players, especially the defenders, didn’t let the concentration drop even for a few moments. The full backs and wide attackers did a good job of covering the wings and France couldn’t produce many crosses into the box. Add to this a midfield that is ready to receive the ball and hold it and we get a team that can blunt almost any attack in the world. They were, no doubt, helped by a French team that lacked cohesion and spirit.

I feel we have players who are comparable to this Spanish side. The differences are subtle. At times we push too far forward against the big teams and this leaves us vulnerable at the back. On other occasions our defense tends to panic and our midfield doesn’t always provide the requisite support.

Against the smaller teams we don’t really face these problem as our record against the “bottom 17” is better than that of Chelsea and United. However, we will undoubtedly need an improvement when moneybags Citeh visit the Emirates. A win in that game might just seal the title. We will also need some improvement in the later stages of the Champions League, assuming we get past Porto. I am guessing Arsene must have seen this game. Hopefully, he will have seen something that can help us.

8 Responses to France 0 – 2 Spain: Lessons For Arsenal

  1. sad says:

    good one mate 🙂

  2. Ducky says:

    “A win in this game might just seal the title”

    Seriously?? I thought you were a rational man.

    • critic says:

      what???u utd ass… against city will surely seal it….coz debtchester utd are gonna lose at city of arabs…..

  3. Northbanker says:

    I didn’t see the France – Spain game but I can agree with the examples you pointed out from watching some of Spains previous games.
    But international football has a big advantage over club football, especially with regards to injuries. If Fabregas or Iniesta can’t play then in comes Xavi whereas club teams have to maybe bring in an inexperienced player. If the club team hs more than 1 or 2 injuries then introducing new ideas becomes very complex.
    I’m quite sure such an astute manager as Wenger has noticed, and thought about implementing some of the examples you point out. But Arsenals injury ravaged season has meant, and this is beyond Wengers control, that he has had to shelve introducing some of these aspects to our game. I’m sure (probably next season) when hopefully he has a more stable first team to choose from we will see some of these adjustments you mention.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree with you that injuries can make it difficult for a manager, especially the type and numbers that we have. However, I would think that a conservative approach is something that a manager would prefer when he doesn’t have his best squad.

      In fairness to Arsene, he does at times say that the squad were not patient enough, especially after we concede on counters in the big games. It could be that he has the tactics but our relative collective inexperience might be costing us.

      I don’t doubt Wenger’s genius even for a minute but when things don’t click and we end up repeating a few basic mistakes in important games, it’s only fair to ask questions and look for answers.

  4. BOOZY says:

    yes what to learn from spain is that they have the most lethal striker in the world. eduardo can be our villa, if he is trusted by wenger.

  5. Vikram says:

    Saw the match. Only thing France could possibly learn is that Raymond Domenech is a tosspot snot sod arse dick toad … and that he’ll always be one.

    The players hate him.
    The fans hate him.
    The press hates him.
    Even idiot politicians now hate him.
    He makes France a laughing stock.

    I wonder what buried bodies he has on the FFF (first word: Federation … work out the rest yourselves)

    Lesson for Arsenal … hang onto your manager. Great ones will always be great … but even rubbish ones can get lucky.

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah, I’ve not been able to figure out how Domenech hasn’t lost his job. Maybe the French are really liberal!

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