I don’t think Spain is boring, but I understand the thrill that comes from saying they are. A couple of weeks ago I decided to advocate for benching Xavi knowing I’d get destroyed for it. A journalistic death wish. It felt great, even if I didn't let anyone read it. I’m not crazy, after all. There are finer football minds engaged in this debate, and every possible point has been covered. I thought a very forlorn Raphael Honigstein summed it best when he was asked on the podcast why Germany didn’t play the game we were used to seeing against Spain. “It’s difficult to express yourself when you’re being asphyxiated.”
And there you have it. Spain creates a vacuum of beauty on the pitch. The tragic aspect of their dominance in possession is the way they make the giddiest teams like Germany or Russia of 2008, teams that rely on counterattack, that run on oxygen and sparks, look cheap and desperate, even a little pathetic. Spain is a charming girl at a dinner party who wants you to laugh at all her brilliant jokes but won’t even let you tell yours. It’s a bit exhausting to always be in thrall.