Spain have Brazil in their sights

November 16, 2009

Spain’s 2-1 friendly victory over Argentina on Saturday was further evidence that the European champions are going to take some stopping if they are to be denied their first ever World Cup triumph.

Vicente del Bosque’s men will have the bruises to show that ‘friendly’ was perhaps not the best word to describe an exciting and competitive match that was lucky to finish with 22 men still on the pitch.

“You are likely to see games like this in the World Cup finals,” Argentina coach Diego Maradona, before receiving his two-month ban from FIFA, said after the game. “Argentina didn’t come to kick their opponents. Argentina played to the limits.”

Argentina may have struggled in qualifying for South Africa but they have lost none of their abrasive edge (committing 23 fouls to Spain’s 7) and gave Spain, who won all 10 of their qualifiers, a run for their money.

But Del Bosque’s side are not easily thrown off their stride. They played the better football and crafted a wonderful opening goal with a slick passing move that Xabi Alonso netted, after David Silva’s shot was parried.

Lionel Messi equalised from the penalty spot before Xabi Alonso sealed the victory with a late penalty for the hosts.

“It was a friendly but we knew it would be tough,” Spain captain Iker Casillas, who won his 100th cap, said. “It’s important to beat the major sides, more so if they are a former world champion.

“Now all we need to do is beat Brazil, because we have already beaten England, Germany, Italy and France. After this result the rest of the world will have more respect for us.”

Spain have recovered well from their shock 2-0 defeat to the United States in the Confederations Cup in June – a result that denied them a shot at Brazil in the final – but it served as a useful reminder that they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

Before the Argentina game, Del Bosque admitted his greatest concern was preventing any over-confidence, but he appears to have successfully nurtured the competitiveness in the side to keep it fresh.

Since Euro 2008, outstanding new talents have debuted in an already impressive squad, including Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets, Valencia’s Juan Mata and Pablo Hernandez, and Sevilla’s Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo.

A World Cup showdown between Brazil and Spain next year would be a fascinating encounter, and it is difficult to bet against one of them being the likely winner.

PHOTO: Spain’s Joan Capdevilla (L) battles for the ball against Argentina’s Fabrizio Coloccini during their friendly soccer match at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, November 14, 2009. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

10 comments

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England’s Capello reckons Brazil are stronger than Spain…

Posted by Mark M | Report as abusive

Looking at the list of substitutes for Saturday’s match at the Calderon you could almost expect Spain’s B team to have a chance of winning the World Cup this time. Cesc Fabregas was on the bench and players like Juan Mata and Jesus Navas would probably get into most countries’ first team. And they still have Fernando Torres and Marcos Senna to come back in once they are fit. Stopping Spain won’t be easy in South Africa and if they get that all-important slice of luck it’s hard not to see them winning.

Posted by Iain | Report as abusive

Yeah.. Spain squad have chance to beat Brazil if they have full team. They both played attractive game

Capello’s point was that England created more chances against Spain than Brazil therefore Spain’s defence is weaker.But the great thing about Del Bosque’s side is first you have to get the ball off them. Then you actually have to breach a defence that is maybe not the strongest in the world, but that always leaves you open to their attacks.They have the players to break down tight, packed defences, and the pace to destroy you on the counter.Beating Italy in the penalty shootout at Euro 2008 was the psychological making off the current side, and they have that belief now that is very tough to overcome. I’d love to see them play Brazil.

Posted by Mark E | Report as abusive

Scotland being currently ranked by FIFA at number 46 are struggling as they have for a while and seem to have driven away more managers than most. Who will now pick up the baton and run with the Scots? A brave man perhaps? Like Republic of Ireland (34) and Northern Ireland (30) are ranked slightly above Scotland as it stands with England topping the pack at Number 7 in the quartet!Where do these sides aspire to reach? Maybe they are there now or could even go lower, be realistic! The problem being that these smaller nations only have a limited number of players to choose from. This seems an obvious statement but if you do not have the quality then no team will do well.The England “second string” team that played, with the exception of two players, did OK against Brazil but showed the lack of real quality of the squad beyond the first team. There are some of those players that can fill in but that’s about it, they are not going to set the world on fire, I’m afraid.Let’s hope that the first team leading stars stay fit. No need to worry as this also applies to many other international teams so we are not alone.http://jonnyontheball.blogspot.com  /Complain about this comment

[...] Source add it: Tags: bruises, confederations cup, diego maradona, european champions, fouls, iker casillas, italy and france, laurels, lionel messi, opponents, pitch, reminder, rest of the world, South Africa, vicente del bosque, world champion, world cup finals, world cup triumph, xabi alonso [...]

Spain has always been vulnerable in the backfield. They may have a lot of good forwards and midfielders, but it is in the back that they always failed. Take the case of their stunning defeat in the hands of the USA in the confederations cup. Dempsey, Donovan and Altidore really found Spain’s defense in a panic mode once they had possession of the ball. Brazil, on the other hand, have been complacent. In my opinion, both of these teams will not prosper in the World Cup.

Posted by luis | Report as abusive

Incidentally, we are live blogging the play-offs at http://live.reuters.com/Event/World_Cup_ decision_day

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Why Aguero didnt play vs spain ? i tried my best to understand what is going on Maradon’s mind , but no way

Posted by Ashour | Report as abusive

Aguero was carrying an injury and was not fully fit

Posted by Mark E | Report as abusive

The only answer is WHEN. Spain have prooved about the best soccer team in the world, they have played well and consistent. I’m curious on Brazil strategy how to win against Spain

Posted by SoccerPropick | Report as abusive