When it comes to Spain, team passing is more important than any one player.
Spain usually puts forth great individual talent that exudes a team philosophy. There won’t be too many—if any—flashy players, demanding the ball, attention, and self-serving gratification of being in the limelight. In this respect, Spain is similar to Germany. They don’t have star players who must have the ball at their feet to get the whole team going. All of Spain’s players need the ball for the unit to succeed.
Watch for the short passing while the players move the ball through numerous channels in a unique fashion which is a focal point of the Tiki-Taka style and still Spain’s basic approach to the game. (Within the Tiki-Taka approach, often two players will exchange multiple passes, improving possession and chemistry within the passing structure, which, over the course of a ninetyminute game, wears down the resolve of the opposing team. It also creates better scoring opportunities. This is where its effectiveness gets tricky. The Golden Generation had a unique understanding of Tiki-Taka, which makes them a tough group to live up to.)
The origins of Spain’s style, of course, come from the influence of the Dutch player and coach, Johan Cruyff. The style had continued to progress at Barcelona under the guidance of coaches Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard before trickling over to the Spanish national team. It was later adopted by Spanish coaches, including Vicente del Bosque, the coach of Spain from 2008- 2016. The Dutch vision sought to implement this style of play within the youth systems, notably the Barcelona La Masia youth academy, which had similarities with the youth academies of Ajax in the Netherlands.
At La Masia, various players were educated in this system, including Iniesta and Pedro. Spain and Barcelona definitely benefited from this training made available to the young players, players who turned into adults and eventually took over the responsibility of leading their teams on the field. In Russia 2018, many of the Spanish players will bring this influence to each game.
Without a doubt, Spain in Russia 2018 will provide high quality, but actually scoring goals will be another question altogether.