Sergio Busquets vs Wesley Sneijder

2010-07-10 00:00

SPAIN’S campaign at the 2010 World Cup has been punctuated throughout by the goals of David Villa, the safe hands of Iker Casillas, the vision of Xavi and the wizardry of Andres Iniesta.

Yet La Roja’s run to the final has also been based on a rock-solid backline and a hard-working and creative centre, embodied by holding midfielder Sergio Busquets, an integral part of Vicente del Bosque’s tactical setup. Indeed, Del Bosque’s use of two deep-lying midfielders in Busquets and Xabi Alonso, a move which was perceived in many quarters as being overly defensive, has looked ever more astute as the tournament has progressed.

By putting pressure on opponents, shielding the defence, starting moves, closing down space and winning back possession, the duo have helped ensure Spain’s goal has been breached just twice in six games.

With Alonso likely to be given a freer role to create from defensive midfield, it seems likely that Barcelona starlet Busquets will be given the role of marking Netherlands’ most important creative influence, midfield general Wesley Sneijder.

Busquets’ imposing presence proved crucial in La Roja’s 1-0 semi-final victory over Germany, when he worked tirelessly to cut off the attacking threat posed by players such as Lukas Podolski and Mesut Oezil.

Tomorrow his job will be to help his country lift the World Cup on their first appearance in the final, where stopping Sneijder will be crucial to Spain’s cause.

Said Busquets of the Inter Milan schemer: “The Netherlands are a great team. They’re very effective on the break as they have very quick forward players. I think that Sneijder is always behind their most dangerous moves, because he’s the one who pulls the strings for them in attack. But we’ll do our best to stop him playing.”

“It’s going to be a very difficult task, though. Every game is harder than the last ... I think the two best teams have reached the final. All we need to do now is play to our strengths and give it everything we’ve got.”

Busquets’ verdict on La Roja’s dominant display against Germany is that Spain are “back to their best”.

“I think that teams are bound to go through difficult phases in a competition, but against Germany we kept the ball, dictated the tempo and the play and created a lot of chances.”

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