Why Rafa taking over as Spain national boss makes sense

Fernando Hierro has left the Spanish football federation and with it leaves the Spain job open for a new manager and beginning.

Rafa Benitez name has been linked and dismissed by many as nothing but paper talk. However, when you consider it logically, it makes sense.

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Spain have been horrendous in the last two World Cups since becoming champions of the world in 2010. Dumped out in the group stage in 2014 and embarrassingly losing to Russia in 2018.

Defensively they were shocking and in attack they were several lacking in cutting edge as they pass, pass, passed the ball around side to side seemingly for the sheer sake of it.

Their midfield maestro’s of Xavi and Iniesta are now gone and Cesc Fabregas won’t be around come the next World Cup and wasn’t even picked in the squad for Russia.

What Spain need is a new generation and with it a new style. Tiki-taka looks like yesterday’s style and boringly out of date. They also don’t have the right players to do it.

When you have Diego Costa up front then passing the ball around for fun is not going to get the best out of him. Going slightly more direct is just what the doctor ordered.

They have young players like Asensio who is full of pace and full of running. Iago Aspas is in a similar mould. They need a manager who will carry the transition from purely possession based football to effective football. Rafa Benitez could be the perfect fit.

He will build their team from back to front and make sure they are defensively sound first and foremost. He will also pick and develop the players that will do the best job to do the end goal; win.

Rafa also has an incredible record in cup tournaments. Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup & Italian Cup are on his CV. He knows how to win. Plus he is obviously one other thing. Spanish.

Not just Spanish but a boy from Madrid who would be nothing but proud to take control of his country. He cried tears of joy when appointed Real Madrid manager. He would do the same as Spanish national coach.

As a Toon fan, I clearly don’t want it to happen right now as he has a job to do building my club into something special. But if Mike Ashley messes him around over the next few weeks of the transfer window, it could be an offer to good to turn down.

Let’s hope Spain don’t ask…

Ginger Pirlo

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Belgium should be sending Japan a thank you note.

When Japan left the World Cup they left a thank you note, in Russian I believe, for their hosts which received worldwide acclaim.

If Belgium end up lifting the World Cup trophy next week, then they should be sending their own thank you note to Japan.

In their last 16 match, the Japanese raced into a two goal lead which came from them taking advantage of Belgium’s lopsided system.

Martinez has insisted on playing a 3-4-3 formation with a right back on the right of a midfield four and an attacking winger on the left.

In theory, some people would say this gives you the best of both worlds. However, in reality it can also give you neither.

The Japanese took advantage of what seemed a blatant weakness in the Belgium fortress, in behind the fake wing backs.

Vast gaps were there for all to see and Japan took advantage like the rebel alliance blasting a couple of shots down a massive hole in the Death Star.

A clear weakness overlooked that would inevitably be there downfall to the right opponent. Luckily for Belgium, it was ‘only Japan’.

If that match played out like most anticipated and the Belgian red devils ran out 2-0 comfortable winners, then Martinez would very likely have stuck to his guns going into the Brazil game. As why would he change?

The 3-4-3 would no doubt have been absolutely demolished by the likes of Neymar and Willian, which would have made this quarter final a very different affair.

Not only would they have been weak without the ball but playing De Bruyne in a midfield two against the Brazilian three, would have also seen him stifled.

As it turns out, Martinez learned his lesson from Japan after a miracle comeback and plugged the gaps and free his biggest weapon.

Belgium were the clear better team last night and Martinez is being lauded a tactical master. Yet this Jedi may need to remember what has lead him to this moment.

When you consider how well they played in a 4-3-3 with his big hitters in better positions to play, you should be asking why he has insisted with the doomed 3-4-3 for his entire reign as Belgium boss.

Yet nobody will if they lift that trophy. It will all be forgotten. But I would be keen to stress to Martinez if I ever met him to insist he remembers the Japanese.

If it weren’t for them, Belgium could well be going home right now. I suggest Mr Martinez should be sending a thank you note of his own to Japan, perhaps in Russian would be apt.

Ginger Pirlo