It is often said by football pundits that ‘form is temporary, bu,t class is permanent’. So, what does it take to be considered a world class soccer team?
Currently, Spain, as World and European champions have set the bar high with their delectable style of football that has seen their establishment as the international team to beat. With world class fitness and agility, coupled with great finesse, understanding and a winning mentality, their template is one that all aspirational teams would be tempted to try and follow. However, to be a major player at all the big world events, teams must do more than just replicate Spain. They must find a way to beat them too.
The characteristics of a great team
In order to be able to say ‘we are world class’, you have to be able to consistently beat the best. To do this, a team needs players with certain individual and collective characteristics.
Both physical and mental. Core strength is key to dominating your opponents and winning physical battles, while collective mental strength can help teams recover from difficult positions and refuse to be beaten. Pace
Sprint speed and acceleration – both of their movement and in their use of the ball – is one major factor that sees Spain’s players excel. Speed of thought is also crucial, allowing them to maneuver the ball out of tight situations. Technique
Most players will develop their technique from a young age as it is integral to their overall ability. The best players have a gentle touch that allows them to pluck the ball from the sky, while they possess a venomous shot and an ability to swerve the ball with both the inside and outside of their feet. Organisation
The best teams are smart, well managed and work to a plan. Years of coaching can go into creating a top side. If each player understands their role in the eleven at all times and executes the plans set out for them by the coach, then the team can play with total unity when defending and attacking. Playing on the opposition’s weaknesses
As mentioned earlier, to be the best, you must first beat the best. Currently, this is Spain, so a good coach must identify their chief weaknesses and ensure that their own team is well prepared to exploit these. In the case of Spain, their greatest weakness is a lack of height in their team which the opposition may look to exploit by playing with two quick wingers and two tall strikers, in an attempt to get many high crosses into the box. There is of course more to consider besides when fully analysing your opponents.