José Venancio López is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading futsal coaches. The current Spanish National Team Head Coach has had repeated success at both club and international level. After finishing a playing career that included representing his country, he became head coach at some of Spain’s top clubs including Caja Segovia and Lobelle Santiago where he had both domestic and international success. These achievements led him to become the leader of the Spanish National Team in 2007 after Javier Lozano left the post.
He has carried on his predecessor’s success by winning three European Championships and two World Cup Silver medals, after a couple of epic battles against the all-powerful Brazil. In 2010 he
won the Grand Prix, the competition that is organised by and held in Brazil and features some of the world’s strongest nations. It is the only time Spain has participated and the only time the hosts have not been crowned champions. An amazing statistic is that in over 100 games with Spain he has never lost a match in regular time.
One example of this is the upcoming International Clinic for coaches that will take place in Milan, Italy in June. In last year’s edition of this clinic I translated for him and I can verify that it was an invaluable learning experience for all attendees, no matter their level of experience.
This year he will talk about defence at the clinic, which will be simultaenously delivered in English, Italian and Spanish. Defence is one of the many subjects in which he is an expert. In fact, he formulated his own defence, known as “Exchange Defence” which has helped bring him great success during his career. Below you will find my interview with this leading figure in the world of futsal where we cover several topics.
The level of the Brazilian and Spanish National Teams is very even. In the last two World Cups Spain has lost to them in the final on penalties and the last seconds of extra-time. What does Spain need to do to win in 2016?
The truth is that we are very equal. The difference has been in the small details, above all in the decisive moments. Finishing is the aspect where they have been better.
You have slowly been integrating a new generation of players into the national team. Will they play in the same style as the previous one that brought Spain so much success or will there be in an evolution in the way they play?
The style will always be maintained, I am not going to modify my idea on how to play. But, also, you have to adapt yourself to the players you have in order to get the maximum performance from them and, therefore, the team.
In recent years many of the foreign players have left the Spanish league. Is this better for the national team because there are more Spanish players featuring in the top division or worse because the standard of the league has dropped?
Everything has an influence but the good thing is that the young players can play in the Premier Division and get minutes, which will help them mature quicker. In this aspect it is a great benefit for the Spanish player.
You employ the “Exchange Defence” in your teams. You were the first to utilise this defence? Why do you choose this system?
Yes, I was the first to use this defensive system, it was a mix of the zonal defence and man-to-man defence. I choose this system, fundamentally, because the idea of playing defence is to press in order that the rival doesn’t progress and recuperate the ball quickly. This system enables that and also keeps the first defensive line high.
In the International Clinic for coaches in Milan this June you are going to present on defence. What is the key to a good defence and its training?
The key is the mastery of the defensive fundamentals and, therefore, you must master those defensive fundamentals. Evidently the key to a team defending well is training. The work in training is fundamental to improve any aspect.
Finally, Spain has produced coaches that are working in the best clubs and national teams around the world. What has been the key to this success?
The development that Spanish coaches have, through the Coaches’ School of the Real Federación Española de Futbol, is the best. I believe that the RFEF courses form coaches to a high standard. In addition, their work in Spanish clubs allows them to gain experience and there are a lot of competitions that enable the coaches to share and see many ideas and philosophies. These enrich the knowledge of the coaches.