Spain’s love for the beautiful game
Football in Spain is all about the flair. Here, the beautiful game is transpired to its literal meaning – to portray the sport in its resplendent form.”In Spain, we don’t like to run behind the ball. We like to keep possession and dictate terms in the entire ninety minutes,” says Marcos Tebar, a Real Madrid graduate.Foundation of Spain’s famous tiki-taka style was interestingly laid by Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff. His tenure as coach of Barcelona changed the face of football in the country. The now world-renowned La Masia academy was Cruyff’s brain child, who brought his possession-based football to the club in 1988.The style of play prominently came to global attention during the 2008-2012 seasons when Pep Guardiola’s FC Barcelona dominated European football at its destructive best.Not many knew, football was played with the same finesse in the country since forever.”As kids, we all dream about playing football and we are taught to train with the ball. In every training majority of the drills include a ball as it is important for Spanish players to control the ball. The ideology behind this is that if you have the ball, you can be the master of the game. The tiki-taka is inherited in us since we start playing at the age of 9 or 10. At that age, we just want to play big tournaments and enjoy football,” explains Tebar, a runner-up in the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup.Glimpse of the country’s exquisite style of play is at display in India where the Spanish boys are running riots in the current edition of the Junior World Cup.advertisementAfter a narrow defeat to Brazil in the group stage, the La Roja bounced back to life and a just one step far from booking their berth in the final. They take on African giants Mali in the second semi-final in Mumbai today.”I couldn’t watch all the matches as I was training with the club (FC Pune City) so I just saw a bit of the game. But from what I have seen, they are doing well. It was a bit hard that we lost to Brazil but I was hopeful they will bounce back stronger. I would suggest them to keep more of the possession and better control of the game. Rest is assured for them,” he says.Taking a leaf out of his book, Tebar, 31, recalls his time in Finland with the under-17 team consisting midfield maestros David Silva and Cesc Fabregas and heartbreak of losing in the final to none of other than Brazil.”It was a great experience for us. I think it is an important tournament for any footballer and if I had to recall that time, it was definitely one of the best moments. We lost in the final but it shaped many careers years on,” he signed off.