Spain has been regularly criticized for lackluster performances following their 2010 World Cup campaign. It’s not all too surprising, as the world champions themselves admitted they lack the motivation to do well in a friendly—which should possibly be the only time wherein other teams can prove their mettle against La Roja.
That said, this was a very testy friendly against Chile, perhaps even testier than their 2010 World Cup match, which Spain won, thanks to goals by David Villa (massive, massive goalkeeping error right there) and Andres Iniesta. This time, the tables were turned on the world champions as Chile led by 2-0 at the half. What went wrong then?
Vicente del Bosque likes using international friendlies to experiment line-ups. Quite understandable, given that most of the defenders utilized in the World Cup were either injured or not called up to give a chance to the U-21 standouts. Starting in the back four for Spain were Sergio Ramos, Javi Martinez, Raul Albiol, and Alvaro Arbeloa. The partnership between Javi Martinez and Raul Albiol has yet to be functional, and Chile was aggressive in attacking from both flanks, which left wide open spaces for scoring opportunities. Isla’s golazo in the 11th minute surely obliterated the defense. Who were the people most pissed with that goal? Iker Casillas, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, and Joan Capdevila, I bet.
So how bad was the defense? Chile’s Vargas scored another goal in the 20th minute. At this point, the experiment was so bad you could throw in Jason Sabio in the fray (Shut up, Azkals bandwagon fans, I stand by what I said—Sabio is much better off completing his law studies). Yes, it is the “friendly” La Roja that showed up in the first half. That’s not to say that Spain did not dominate possession—we had it 59% of the time. The Silva-Villa connection was working well—everything but the finish, however.
Interestingly enough, Vicente del Bosque made key substitutions in the midfield, not on his back four, for the second half. Andres Iniesta came on for Xabi Alonso, and he created an impact by scoring Spain’s first goal at the 55th minute. There was also another super sub that came on together with Fernando Torres, and that is Cesc Fabregas, who scored a doblete—including one penalty kick—for the first time in his international career, to seal a victory for Spain 3-2.
That said, the highlight of this match was this brawl that happened in the dying minutes of the game (HOMBRES, ES UN AMISTOSO!):
A few notes: 1) Iker is a captain to the end, taking the lead in getting his teammates away from the fracas. 2) Nando is such a girl, and I love it. 3) Sergio is one very strong pony.
MOTM: Cesc Fabregas, and I am still continuing my appeal for him to have a decent haircut.
ETA: In hindsight, it’s good the brawl happened. It’s just proof that there are no divisions within La Roja. Vamos Campeones!