Thank god for TVE, which shows La Roja’s matches in the Philippines (live, at that). This is more than I can say for ESPN/Star, who refuses to air Liverpool’s matches in our fledgling football country.
Of course, TVE did not disappoint with the Spain-Liechtenstein match. And La Roja did not disappoint either (but of course, Liechtenstein are minnows!).
This match saw the pairing of Sergio Busquets and Raul Albiol at the central defense, which was not a disaster compared to the Javi Martinez-Raul Albiol partnership several days ago—but of course, the credit goes to Spain’s steely midfield anchored by Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, and Xabi Alonso, who made sure that Spain dominated possession.
Liechtenstein clearly played with defense in mind, but even their defense was no match for the World Champions, who just managed to find those open spaces. The passing was just too sublime, and if Liechtenstein’s goalkeeper just had an off day, it would have been raining goals for Spain at the rate they were playing.
Alvaro Negredo scored twice, at the 32nd and 37th minutes. Now this is a player whose looking to have a spot at the Euro 2012, and it is worth noting that he started ahead of Fernando Torres, who was not even on the bench. Now, let’s not jump conclusions to Torres being beyond his prime. Only 18 players were required by UEFA, and among those who also sat this one out were Martinez and Pepe Reina.
Xavi got into the scoreboard at the 43rd minute, with a beautiful golazo off a free kick. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why this man is called a football maestro. Xavi was substituted in the second half by Cesc Fabregas, who still badly needs a haircut.
On the 51st minute, my favorite pony, Sergio Ramos, scored a goal of his own. That is what you call being at the right place at the right time, gently nudging the ball with his left foot to the bottom right corner of the goal. Meanwhile, David Villa (god bless the copious amounts of gel on his hair) scored his 48th and 49th goals for Spain in this match.
Other key substitutions included: Thiago, who makes his first official appearance for Spain (hands off, Brazil!); and Fernando Llorente, “el hombre de Logroño”. I love it that Vicente del Bosque pays attention to such things.
This victory essentially puts defending champions Spain through to the Euro 2012 finals. Vamos La Roja!