Spain suffer Argentine embarrassment but write them off at your peril
Trying to read anything into Spain’s 4-1 defeat in Argentina is tough considering it was a friendly. Did the world champions take it too lightly? Was Del Bosque right to field Pepe Reina in goal with fringe players Nacho Monreal, Alvaro Arbeloa and Carlos Marchena in the back four for a match that was never going to be that ‘friendly’?
Or was it that Argentina really got it together under new coach Sergio Batista?
Spain started poorly conceding two goals in the first 13 minutes and the third came after an embarrassing slip from Reina in the 34th, but they responded well in the second half and hit the woodwork three times overall.
Surely the only conclusions that can be drawn will be after the next couple of matches for both sides.
If Spain stumble at home to Lithuania or away to Scotland in their next Euro 2012 qualifiers it could be argued the defeat had dented their aura of invincibility or that their confidence had been knocked.
Spain’s style of football, similar to that of Barcelona’s, is high-risk if you do not display the mental and physical sharpness required to maintain possession in the face of a harrying, motivated opponent, who has the ability to break quickly.
Let’s face it, this game meant much more to Argentina. After their disappointing showing at the World Cup finals in South Africa they were seeking redemption in front of their own fans.
They achieved that and may have set out on a new, more stable era after the roller-coaster ride that characterized Diego Maradona’s stewardship.
As for Spain, it was perhaps unbecoming for the new world champions be laid bare so quickly.
The last time they conceded four goals was 10 years ago against Germany. They lost 4-1 in Hannover, and that was a friendly too. Write them off at your peril.
PHOTO: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after scoring the first goal against Spain in Buenos Aires, September 7, 2010. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian