Spain are in serious trouble of not even making it past the group stage at Euro 2020, and Rafael van der Vaart is already sounding the death knell with his recent comments. As Luis Aragonés might have put it, Van der Vaart was more of a fancy player than a good one. A Dutch player with Andalucian blood, who was at Real Madrid between presidents. He was a decent player back in his day, one worthy of a place at any big side… as long as he was surrounded by a handful of players who were better than him. As it turned out, his place in football was as the blue-eyed boy at smaller clubs. And that was how his playing career panned out. Now, he is sending us a message - one which contains so many truths that it might actually serve to stimulate the team - Spain, he says, play horrible, weak football, kicking the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, without any penetration whatsoever.
Motivation for Spain
We can't really argue with that, but his frank observation was a bit rude. Everyone has their own problems and shortcomings, and we have enough on our plate without having a minor footballer rubbing our faces in it. But on the other hand, maybe it will do some good. It's that kind of criticism that coaches pin to the dressing room blackboard before big games, to get a reaction from the players. Maybe there is no need for that tonight. Criticism of Spain's performances has been flying in left, right and centre, so there isn't really much need to ram it home to the players. I think Van der Vaart's comments could have the desired effect. Spain need a motive to haul themselves out of this rut, and Van der Vaart may just have provided them one.
Because everything else is going against them. Seville, the city which propelled our national team on epic nights now seem to have lost faith in the team. Out in the streets, you can hear the mummer of fans reminiscing about the good old days, (“¡Qué bonito fue, qué bonito fue, con Luis Aragonés!”); sounding as much as praise for the former coach as disregard for the current one. That's why Rafael van der Vaart's remarks maybe just what was needed, and if Luis Enrique can use them to whip up his players, perhaps it will give them the extra push they need in this decisive game against Slovakia. It's one thing for our national team to be predictable, and another for them to be slated by someone like Rafael van der Vaart.