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Javi Martinez goes 90 minutes at centerback; Spain falls out of the tournament

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Spain lost 2-0 to Chile to end their hopes of winning a 4th major tournament in a row. Javi Martinez played 90 minutes at centerback because apparently this is a thing that needs to happen although it doesn't work.

David Ramos

It was a relatively short tournament for Spain. Two games. Two defeats. They had no chance in either contest.

From the initial whistle against Chile, Spain were under a constant barrage of pressure as Chile came directly at them. Spain deployed their traditional 4-3-3 possession-oriented system while Chile set up in a counterattacking defensive posture using a 3-4-1-2. Chile immediately attacked down the wings using long balls and the speed of Alexis Sanchez to causes fits for the Spanish defense. The Spanish attacking fullbacks were virtually ineffective in offense, while Sergio Ramos' more offensive acumen left Javi Martinez playing the role of the conservative centerback against the counterattack; which went about as well as it did every time it was tried this year with Bayern Munich.

Chile's first goal came on a counter down the right. Marintez was pulled far to the side exposing massive holes for midfield runs from Chile. A few quick passes and impressive footwork later, Chile were in the lead and Spain were demoralized. Chile added a second goal right before the end of the first half after Spain's wall decided to play some game like "first one who jumps is a rotten egg" on a set piece, only to see Iker Casillas palm the ball to an unmarked Charles Aranguiz.

The entire second half Spain went through the motions of trying to earn at least one goal. They came close on several occasions, but everything they did seemed bereft of any fire or drive. They looked like a broken shell of a team as they limped across the 90 minute mark.

Javi Martinez had a lackluster game, similar to most every other attempt at playing a center back in a four man backline this past year. Without his reading and positioning in midfield, he becomes just another ball winning centerback. In this case, a ball winning centerback who struggles against the counterattack. He's simply not cut out to play that position. Which is really unfortunate because Javi Martinez is one of the probably five best players on the Spanish national team and a double pivot involving both him and Sergio Busquets would likely be one of the most unstoppable forces in modern football. However, the marriage between Vincente del Bosque and his over the hill favorites in midfield is preventing Spain from realizing just how incredible they could be. Hopefully in this next cycle, Spain can come to some sort of realization that the tools for dominance are already there, it's just a matter of putting them in the right order. And I think it starts with getting Javi Martinez in the correct position to work his magic. Maybe this process can start next Tuesday when they face Australia before they head home.