Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger solves failings of England national team in one fell swoop.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes that the gap between the national sides of England and Spain is based on the understanding between the players.
“What people forget about Spain, and what they do not talk enough about, is the big advantage of a good national team is when it is based on two (club) teams,” Wenger said in his morning press conference.
“In the starting line-up of Spain, you have many times seven players from Barcelona, three or four from Real Madrid. The other night (Arsenal left-back Nacho) Monreal was the only player who was not from Barcelona or Real Madrid.
“That is a massive advantage when you go into a game like that, because you can play like a club. If we can have four, five or six (England players) at one club, it will become a massive advantage for England.
“At the moment, all of these players are spread everywhere. To look like a good team, you have moments like that where you play well for one half, then suddenly something disappears and you have no team anymore, because the players come from too many clubs.”
Of course, Monreal was only playing for Spain because Jordi Alba was injured, and had the Barcelona star been fit, it would have been an entirely Barca and Real Madrid XI.
Because Spain often field a team entirely from two clubs in FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, the cohesion from man to man is already there, as there are existing partnerships from all over the field.
The typical side – as selected against France in Spain’s most recent match – has Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas in goal, with Carles Puyol alongside Barca colleague Alba on one side of the defence, with Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa of Madrid on the other.
Midfield is anchored by Sergio Busquets, with Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez ahead of him, and the front three generally consists of Pedro Rodriguez, Andres Iniesta and David Villa.
If it is attacking play that requires an increased level of understanding, it no doubt helps that five of that front six play for Barcelona, and Xabi Alonso’s 107 caps likely to help his relationship with the Barca players.
Unless something drastically changes for England, that will be difficult to match in the short term.
Manchester United probably supply the most players to the first choice England side at the moment, with Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney taking part in the Three Lions’ midfield and attack against Montenegro.
The four of those are not quite the same quality as Barcelona’s players though, and the likes of Carrick, Cleverley and Welbeck do not yet have a great deal of experience at international level.
Still, perhaps they and Arsenal’s own group of young English players in Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott could help England reach the next level.