All the build up to the Spain v Russia game was about Andrei Arshavin but it was our very own Cesc Fabregas who lit up the semi-final with a sensational display, alongside an in form Spanish side.
Barcelona target Arshavin was the man people looked to before the match started to make something happen but it would be fair to say he was completely anonymous tonight. He’s also been linked to Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League but to be honest if he was any good Arsene would have snapped him up years ago. He does seem to have a temperament problem too, and was sent off in the qualifying campaign against Andorra which was the reason why he was suspended for the first two games of this summers championships.
Two good games? Barcelona can have him. Along with Hleb.
Fabregas was only introduced tonight as a substitute, after David Villa had to come off with an injury on 34 minutes. Since he came on though he changed the game and put in a real Man of the Match performance.
After coolly sending home the World Champions in the last round with a pressure penalty Fabregas was instrumental in sending Spain into the final to face the Germans. To be fair Spain were excellent all over the pitch and Cesc was a star amongst stars. But playing almost as a second striker he adapted well and linked up play sensationally. You couldn’t have asked any more of the kid.
Spain looked so confident tonight and will give the Germans a run for their money on Sunday evening, which is all you can ask for in a major final. The Spaniards opened the scoring on 50 minutes and were in cruise control from then on. A shot from Iniesta from the left side came into the path of Xavi, who slotted in from 5 yards. As Russia opened up Spain just passed circles around them and Fabregas was literally running the show. His sumptuous pass for Daniel Guiza made it 2-0 and he also rounded off a fantastic display with the assist for David Silva’s goal and Spain’s third with only 7 minutes remaining.
So the big question is will Cesc start the final?
Well in every game so far Spain have started with Torres and Villa up front, with a midfield of Silva, Senna and the Barcelona boys Xavi and Iniesta in the centre. Will Aragones break up the Barca link?
The problem is it seems that although Fabregas played alongside Xavi and Iniesta tonight, it was at the expense of David Villa. We don’t know how serious his injury is but if he’s fit for the final or Aragones wants to play with two strikers then there’s only room for two from Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas. Senna is the holding midfielder and David Silva is the playmaker so they are certain to start.
Even when Fabregas has been introduced into the action throughout this tournament (except for tonight) it has been at the expense of Xavi and Iniesta. Cesc has usually come on with another midfielder (Xabi Alonso or Santi Cazorla for instance) replacing both Xavi and Iniesta.
Clearly Aragones doesn’t think Fabregas can play alongside Xavi or Iniesta, or just doesn’t want to seperate the Barcelona midfielders.
Luckily though tonight Spain showed that all three are more than capable of playing well with each other in an effective midfield.
I personally don’t think Cesc will start the final even though he probably derserves to. Politics and player power is more and more influential these days and with 10 of tonight’s starting 11 playing their football in Spain (Torres being the exception) I just can’t see Fabregas cracking into that alliance. Can you imagine what the Spanish press would say if Iniesta or Xavi didn’t start despite starting all of the games so far?
I can’t see it happening.
Cesc will have to make do with being on the bench for the final but will more likely than not be the first substitute Spain will use. I would be shocked if he didn’t make some kind of appearance in the game.
P.S. I’ve just realised I spelt ‘Arshavin’ wrong in the title of this piece, but it can’t be changed now for the anally retentive among us.