Spain without David Villa are toothless: Euro 2012 is a free-for-all
“I read the news today, oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade. And though the news was rather sad, well I just had to laugh.” John Lennon’s words, fifty years ago. So on hearing of David Villa’s leg break and coming out with that, it’s Lennon who wants punishing, not me. Villa, we heard this morning, had been injured playing in the Club World Cup for Barcelona and may well miss the European Championships in the summer.
Spain’s chances at the tournament, then, are immediately decreased. Despite their army of talent, with Fernando Torres’ perpetual injury and loss of form, other than Villa they lack a goalscorer extraordinaire. Seventy percent percentage percentile possess possession is, as Barcelona have found more often than ever this season, not a winning formula without a cutting-edge.
An obviously sad story, then, has its happy twist for those of us without a conscience. You see, Euro 2012 bears within it the capacity to be great. This is the last time that the European Championships will be played with sixteen teams – a travesty, as it is a brilliant format which makes it very difficult to even get out of the group stages. It’s a chance for a tournament which, so rare, mixes quality with adequate competition. And the only thing that could stop it doing so is a Spanish procession – and as of today that looks twice as unlikely.
If Germany win it, the other favourites, they will not do it with sterile domination. There will be no functional, inevitable progress from them. Only Spain threatened the fun. As of today, the last vegetable with hopes of escaping the stew has been caught, and dragged back in. No David Villa and things start to look even more…even.
Look at the groups. Group D: Ukraine, France, Sweden and ENGLAND. Group C: Spain, IRELAND, Croatia and Italy. Group B: Holland, Denmark, Portugal and Germany. Group A: Poland, Greece, Czech Republic and Russia. Is there any team that is certain – nailed on with your mortgage and your neighbour’s – to progress? There is not.
With the move to a tournament with 32 teams the European Championships will never be the same again. It will be a second World Cup, with extra tedium for having a couple less good teams than that. This time, then, is the last hurrah.
Without David Villa there’s even more hurrah to it. That’s not to say I’m glad he’s broken his leg. I mean, I’d have been equally as happy had he simply chosen not to play, but he didn’t respond to any of my emails so I assumed an invitation to tamper with his shin-pads.