Confederations Cup 2013: Four lessons as Spain thrash Tahiti
Confederations Cup 2013: Tom Wellman looks at four talking points from Spain's emphatic 10-0 victory over Tahiti
Double figures unusual for Spain but not the amount many hoped
Despite the game being the biggest mismatch in Confederations Cup history, Spain’s tally exceeded expectations. Historically, La Roja are not a side known for their prolific scoring, in spite of their wealth of attacking finesse, as their previous results against lesser-ranked teams attests. In the past 13 years, Spain’s biggest win has been just 6-0 (against Poland, San Marino, Liechtenstein and Azerbaijan) when teams such as Germany have hit up to 13 in top-heavy UEFA qualifiers. Although 10 goals constituted a heavy win for Spain, and it could easily have been more, reaching the total Australia amassed against American Samoa in 2001 (31!) was unlikely. Spain plays a certain way, scoring freely against everyone, and the Tahiti game was an unusual event, but possession football continues to reign supreme ahead of goal power in Spain’s encyclopedia of football.
Villa and Torres selection made little sense
Fernando Torres and David Villa scored seven goals between them but in a game with little importance, putting both of them into the starting line-up brought up a few questions. Considering Spain prefer a “strikerless” formation, playing both Villa and Torres left Vicente del Bosque with nothing to take from this game and into the forthcoming matches. Spain abandoned their usual shape and passing style, which was understandable for this game, but worthless for the team moving forwards. Spain’s side was composed of their reserves and, even against Tahiti, not playing in their usual way would have done nothing to encourage Del Bosque to consider anyone for the upcoming games. Furthermore, we all know the quality Villa and Torres possess, so why not let Roberto Soldado add more goals and confidence in his young international career? Andres Iniesta claimed his country would treat the game as a “normal match” but this was anything but normal Spain.
Second string Spain lack chemistry
The shape and style of Spain was completely different, as was the starting XI, but the startling observation was that the team lacked cohesion, particularly in the first half. Missing Barcelona’s telepathic mainstays was the obvious problem, and it was to be expected that Chelsea’s Juan Mata, Manchester City’s David Silva and Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla failed to reinstate that same verve. Spain’s recently re-crowned Under-21 squad have just proved that the future remains encouragingly bright but when looking towards replacing the current Spanish midfield, there’s a noticeable gap. For the moment they can be classed as capable understudies but nowhere near threatening the status of the current, untouchable squad.
Tahiti the world’s new favourite side
The Pacific Islanders thought their lovable status couldn’t have risen further following Jonathan Tehua’s header against Nigeria, but their spirited performance against Spain took them to new heights. Everyone in the Maracana was willing them to attack Spain and grimaced as each of the 10 goals went in, but nevertheless took the team to their hearts. The crowd cheered every pass and roared when Torres skied his penalty, but gave the entire team a rousing reception upon the final whistle for all 23 players to savour forever. Spain may have won the game comfortably, but Tahiti have won a whole lot more than three points over the course of their two games in Brazil.