Opinion

Luis Enrique's direct style shows Spain just as good after tiki-taka

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Spain's extraordinary 6-0 annihilation of Germany that has sent shockwaves around the world is just reward for their decision to entrust young coach Luis Enrique with the job of revitalising the national team's game after a meek exit from the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

In stark contrast, one wonders if it is time for the Germans to acknowledge that they could do with a change of direction in terms of playing style and ask themselves if 'old school' coach Joachim Loew is the right man to take them forward.

One sparrow does not make a summer but the manner in which 'La Roja' outclassed 'Die Mannschaft' to gain qualification for the Nations League finals cannot be dismissed as a one-off.

It showed in no uncertain terms that Enrique's side is nicely placed for a most rewarding future.

Especially when Spain have in their ranks one of the emerging genuine talents of European football in striker Ferran Torres, who bagged a memorable hat-trick in the slaughter in Seville.

Spain's tiki-taka pattern that brought them a World Cup triumph in 2010 that was bookended by two European Championship titles is gone.

The much-admired system had run its course and by the time the 2014 World Cup was over the Spaniards knew that they had to change their ways in order to stay competitive at the highest level.

Watching them play in the last few months, one could notice that their fast and direct approach could not be further removed from the possession-based game that was designed to rip the heart out of opponents and kill them slowly.

No messing about, no endless passing and no waiting for the opposition to drop their guard ... just non-stop movement from all players as they stormed forward with lovely passing to have a go at goal as quickly as possible. Yes, it's more wham-bam than tiki-taka now.

Some of the slick moves that resulted in glorious goals were the result of Enrique's work since he was appointed after the 2018 World Cup, when Spain crashed out in the round of 16.

Spain's current attitude towards winning a football match is not like that of the crafty matador who toys with the unfortunate bull before applying the coup de grace but more like that of a deadly sniper who picks his target and executes with surgical precision.

Loew is seen in some quarters as rather lucky to hold on to the job he inherited from Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006.

He certainly had huge success, leading Germany to the 2008 European Championship final and the 2014 world title but the shadow of the 2018 World Cup shambles when the team finished last in the group still hangs over the whole national environment. 

Germany's style appears to have become predictable despite some strong results of late.

The Germans also have become very vulnerable at the back, conceding far too many goals.

One suspects that they do not have the right balance between attack and defence and are easily exposed in transition by teams that can play quick counter-attacks.

Only last month they let in three goals and only just managed to snare a 3-3 draw in a group match against Switzerland.

Before that they allowed Turkey to equalise three times in another six-goal draw in a friendly. 

Perhaps three out-and-out strikers are too much of a luxury for this German side that needs a larger midfield as protection for its suspect defence.

Fortunately Loew has a strong domestic base from which to pick a team and it would be utterly foolish to write off the Germans even after they suffered their worst ever defeat in a competitive match.

But the team needs an injection of new ideas and I am not sure if Loew is the man to provide that.

The Spanish team however has already gone past that point and is well on its way to have some more fun in the next few years.

Maybe just like in the good old days.