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Vicente del Bosque's starting XI are drawn from Spanish clubs but have left the old parochialism behind. Monitoring the form of key players must be monotonous for Vicente del Bosque. The Spain manager surely has to keep making the same few journeys as he heads for Camp Nou or the Bernabu.
His starting XI presently contains seven Barcelona men, following David Villa's move from Valencia, and three on Real Madrid's books. The left-back Joan Capdevila, of Villarreal, must wonder if he appears on the World Cup finalists' team sheet as a clerical error.
del Bosque will know the advantage he enjoys over his peers. Spanish footballers were once castigated, just like the English, for sticking to their homeland or floundering when they did make a change of scene.
The accusations no longer apply. Gerard Piqu, at Manchester United as a teenager, and Xabi Alonso, formerly a great asset to Liverpool, are among those willing to be cosmopolitan.
This aspect is in sharp contrast to that of England, who took to South Africa a group composed solely of Premier League men who, in many cases, would be expected to flounder if they moved abroad. Spain are no longer so open to accusations of insularity. Were it not for the lack of sharpness following knee surgery, the current Anfield centre-forward Fernando Torres would surely start in Del Bosque's side.
In general, though, circumstances have recently made La Liga seem like a vast World Cup training camp for men who have now taken Spain to the final for the first time. Continuity of selection can also be sensed in the rhythmic passing of men so accustomed to working together.
Germany were beaten by a single goal, from Carles Puyol at a corner-kick, but the losing manager, Joachim Loew, made no pretence that the outcome had really been in the balance.
The same result against the same opponents had made Spain the champions of Europe two years ago. Little has altered since then and these players have developed so practised a style of play that a 1-0 lead is equivalent to a win since they are so accomplished at keeping the ball and preventing opponents from getting possession in the critical areas.
All those men on the payroll at Real or Barcelona cannot help but see themselves as the elite. — © Guardian News and Media 2010
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