In the red corner, the side with an incurable appeal to the romantic and the aesthete, the team with an unfailing belief that passing is the only method of progress.
In the blue corner, the team who have taken a wildly different approach, the epitome of defensiveness, the men who come to stifle and subdue with the seeming intent of drawing 0-0 in every match.
Spain's trip to Scotland provides an intriguing contrast. This is a meeting of opposites. In a World Cup that was scarcely overloaded with goals, Vicente Del Bosque's side nevertheless emerged as the standard bearers of attacking football by overcoming the Dutch cloggers in the final. In midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta, they featured players for the purist. There was a time when skilful inside-forwards, like brave strikers and tricky wingers, were hallmarks of the Scottish game. Not now.
Craig Levein's tactics in the Czech Republic on Friday were both unedifying and unsuccessful. A 4-2-4-0 formation meant he selected a side without a forward line to face a team ranked 37th in the world. The Scottish reaction to the subsequent criticism has been, like their manager's tactics, to go on the defensive. The outcry is understandable. Pass and move was once the Scottish way and, while George Burley, Levein's predecessor, displayed a naivety in his attempts to attack, he was tapping into a historic ethos. Levein, however, is charting new ground.
The battle-hardened pragmatism that brought results under Alex McLeish and Walter Smith still contained a striker and a threat to the opposition's goal. Now, for some in Scotland, a victory for Spain would be interpreted as a victory for football. There is a defiance to the Scotland manager. "Here's how it works: I got the job and the job is to try and qualify for the Euros," Levein told reporters. "I'll do that the way I think is right. If it causes a little bit of a stooshie [fuss] and some of you press guys get upset, then so what?
"That's not my concern. I've got a group of players who I believe I can work with and who everybody who watched against the Czech Republic realised they put everything they had into the match. For me, that's a great starting point and we move on." Levein did not confirm if he will restore Kenny Miller, the in-form striker, to his team at Hampden Park, should he decide that an attack would complement an overmanned defence and midfield.
The Glasgow Rangers forward's credentials include 10 goals in seven games in the Scottish Premier League and a terrific effort in adversity as a lone striker against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League. Factor in a reasonable scoring record in the international game and his case to start in Prague was strong. His recall might be an admission that Levein's pioneering formation was misguided, yet the damage to the manager's standing has been done and, barring a result that would be a greater shock than the twin victories over France that McLeish and Smith oversaw, his reputation for needless negativity will be hard to shed.
His opponents have no such concerns. The Spanish approach does not change, even when the personnel do. There is no Xavi, Cesc Fabregas or Fernando Torres, while Xabi Alonso missed Friday's 3-1 win over Lithuania with flu. But Santi Cazorla stepped in for the Barcelona playmaker Xavi while Fernando Llorente - short for Fernando Llorente Torres - delivered two goals in his namesake's absence and he partners the prolific David Villa.
Football matches often boil down to the contest between one side's defence and the other team's attack. It is rare they are signposted so clearly, though.
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