Spain vs. France: La Furia Roja Must Find Go-to Striker to Win 2014 World Cup
Like they've done so many times before in international football, Spain came, they saw, and they conquered.
This time it was European rivals France playing in their own backyard, who were no doubt full of confidence after watching the world champions struggle against Finland and knowing that they themselves had taken points off Spain last time they played.
Yet in spite of that, as well as their best defensive efforts on the night, Les Blues just weren't able to stop La Furia Roja from earning another win. The away side ran out 1-0 winners on the night thanks to a second-half goal from Pedro, which sent Spain to the top of their qualifying group.
And by all accounts, the win seemingly confirmed what we already knew to be true—Spain are going to be the team to catch at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
They are, after all, the two-time reigning European Championship winner and reigning World Cup holders. Spain haven't been beaten in an international tournament in the last six years now—and there's good reason for that, with their dominant midfield simply unstoppable at times.
Spain will be the favorites for the 2014 World Cup, without doubt, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're locks for the title. Not as much as they have been in other tournaments, anyway.
What the France win showed was that yes, Spain are still one of the best teams in the world, but also that they've lost some of their attacking dominance. As crazy as that might seem for a midfield and forward line that boasts some of the biggest names in world football, Spain aren't as strong in attack as they were four years ago, and they could find trouble in Brazil because of it.
It's important to note here that it's not their midfield that's the issue.
Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta—that trio are arguably the most dominant midfield trio in world football and they'll have great success in Brazil, much like they did against France on Tuesday.
However, it's the players ahead of them, and in particular their strikers, who aren't producing the same effectiveness for Spain at the moment. And if it continues like that, they'll seriously struggle to compete at the World Cup in the dominant fashion that they were likely expecting to.
David Villa is not the answer as a lone striker for Spain. It's not his game, and unless he's partnered with someone else (who preferably becomes the go-to striker), then it's hard to see him achieving the same success on an international level that he achieves with Lionel Messi.
Alvaro Negredo hasn't proved himself on the biggest stage either, so it's hard to see Spain turning their full attention towards the Sevilla man to lead them at the World Cup.
Fernando Torres has been the guy to fill that role over the past few tournaments, but given his form line, it's hard to see him being the guy picked.
After all, if Chelsea don't exactly believe that he's the answer to their striker problem, how can Spain see him as the answer to theirs?
Neither of those three guys seem to be the answer for Spain in their attack, and Vicente Del Bosque would do well to look to a couple of other players to fill that role—Fernando Llorente (soon to be at Juventus) and Michu (currently at Swansea).
Both Llorente and Michu command the ball at the top of the attack—making themselves a target for the dominant midfield in behind to look for. They are both technically sound with the ball at their feet and are devastating finishers—something that Spain has been lacking of late due to their absence of a go-to striker at the top of the attack.
Bringing in Llorente or Michu and putting them at the top of this Spanish team could have devastating results. It would no doubt increase their goals and offensive production, but more importantly, it would give their attack direction and purpose once more—something it lacked at times against France.
Bleacher Report's Xoel Cardenas said this following the 1-0 win:
As much as I love Spain's game, I worry that these 1-0 games will finally catch up to them. How long will it be until a team figures them out, and then Spain will have to score 3-4 goals? Spain can't win the 2014 FIFA World Cup with 1-0 wins again, can they?
As a Spain fan, I hope so. But I'm also a realist—Spain is going to need more goals, especially from their strikers.
Spain can definitely still win the World Cup at the rate they're traveling. As mentioned before, their squad is that rich with talent that it take be a brave man to suggest they won't win the title.
But without a go-to striker, they are significantly weaker and their talented players are less effective than what they could otherwise be.
If Spain add in a dominant striker at the top of their attack once more, the reality is that they cannot be beaten at the 2014 World Cup. Not with the squad they have and the talent in midfield; a dominant striker simply completes what is an unbeatable team in international football.
Until then, however, the questions will remain.
Who should Spain use as their striker for the 2014 World Cup?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre
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