clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

World Cup: Spain's Road to Victory

New, comments
Getty Images

Spain displayed a surprising level of dominance throughout the World Cup. Whereas other teams might periodically not dominate possession from the moment the game started, the Spaniards never blinked.

Opponent Minutes Tied Pass F/90 Weighted Pass A/90 Weighted % Passes Weighted
Switzerland 52.3 675 153 215 41 76 79
Honduras 16.8 461 108 338 61 58 64
Chile 23.9 305 65 203 49 60 57
Portugal 63.2 602 129 255 47 70 73
Paraguay 83.1 527 107 158 33 77 77
Germany 73.6 653 150 367 65 64 70
Netherlands 122.3 414 87 207 38 67 70
Total 435.2 531 115 237 45 69 72

It seems surprising that they were less dominant during group play, putting up middling numbers (for them) against the Chileans and a weak Honduran side. But once they got up against good opponents, they made sure to control the play.

One sign of a team being way better than its opponents is its ability to control possession even when they have the lead. Normally, a team will play defensively when it's up a goal and concede the ball in order to prevent higher-quality scoring chances. Spain never really gave the ball up when it was beating most of its opponents:

Opponent Minutes Up 1 Pass F/90 Weighted Pass A/90 Weighted % Passes Weighted
Switzerland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Honduras 34.8 499 113 230 47 68 71
Chile 57.7 685 135 236 40 74 77
Portugal 31 494 106 296 46 63 70
Paraguay 12.3 395 79 95 20 81 79
Germany 20.8 199 48 493 106 29 31
Netherlands 6.9 26 5 157 38 14 12
Total 163.5 498 104 265 50 65 68

It wasn't until they came up against the Germans that they actually needed to back off a bit. Despite their loss to the Swiss and a few shaky moments against Paraguay, this looks like the best team's textbook path to winning the World Cup.

If anyone could have challenged Spain, it would have been Argentina or Brazil, but each of them eliminated themselves long ago with a bad game. The Dutch and the Germans simply weren't up to the task.