After Spain dazzled fans in Brazil and around the world with a magnificent exhibition of football yesterday, here are four things that we learned:
1. Spain are not on the decline.
Far from it. The have developed tiki-taka to near perfection, hardly allowing the opponent to sniff the ball. When they do lose it, the pressing and recovery is unimaginably quick. Many fans claim it’s boring, and they may be right. It usually is boring to watch a match where one team is on a completely different level than the other, especially if that team doesn’t fill up the score sheet. What’s certain though, is that if matches with Spain are boring, it is not the Spanish team’s fault. Uruguay recognized they were outmatched from the get-go and packed all 10 outfield players behind the ball. It hardly mattered to Spain, as they passed around La Celeste with ease.
2. Andrés Iniesta is the best player at the Confederations Cup.
This tournament might be Neymar’s coming out party to the world, but even he would recognize the superiority of his new Barcelona teammate. Iniesta was all over the field, linking up with the very familiar Xavi, Cesc Fábregas, and Sergio Busquets, and generally making it impossible for Uruguay to involve themselves in the match. In a game admittedly lacking action for large portions of time, Iniesta dazzled and excited the Brazilian crowd.
3. Despite Uruguay’s strikeforce threat, there was no verdict on Casillas vs. Valdés.
Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez might be worth a combined 110 million euros, but were lucky to even see a ball they could attempt to run onto. Ironically, it was Cavani who seemed to lose his composure, clearly frustrated throughout the game, while Suárez maintained his and even gave Uruguay a false hope with his stunning free kick in the 88th minute. There was uncertainty in the build up to the game over whether Iker Casillas or Victor Valdés would start in goal for Spain, but it ultimately mattered none. Vicente del Bosque could have set up a chair in front of the net and the score wouldn’t have been any different.
4. Spain are not invincible.
They may have utterly dominated Uruguay, but the final score did not indicate that. For all of Spain’s possession and mesmerizing passing, they still looked lacking in the final third. Having 80% possession will mean nothing if Spain cannot convert it into goals. If they are caught on the break or a set piece once or twice against a strong team like Italy or Brazil, it could wipe out a half hour of fine passing and possession. La Roja probably won’t be tested much within their group, but they will need more lethal finishing once they reach the semi finals.