1088

1088.

That is the number of Spain’s passes in this morning’s (Manila time) match versus the Czech Republic. La Roja (ironically in white, with Czech Republic in red) has already qualified for the Euro 2012 finals, but that did not stop the European and World Champions from displaying excellent form.

I know there are some who criticize the tiki-taka that all they do is pass-pass-pass for a full 90 minutes. Yet, they fail to see it’s not just about the possession. It’s about methodically breaking down the opponent. Watching this game made me think La Roja was at one of their finest—despite the fact that key men such as Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas are out due to injury.

Interestingly enough, Vicente del Bosque started David Silva and Fernando Torres—this after SIlva lamented that he no longer gets a spot in the starting XI after Spain’s loss to Switzerland in their first game in the World Cup 2010 and after Fernando Torres was not even on the bench in their last Euro 2012 qualifier versus Liechtenstein. Trust the marquis to issue a challenge to both players by giving them starting spots.

La Roja got an early goal from Juanin Mata, off a Xavi assist—which was sublime, to capture it succinctly. Meanwhile, David Silva proved his magic by making an assist to Xabi Alonso, who scored Spain’s second goal. This is Xabi’s 11th goal since del Bosque took over—and only David Villa has scored higher with 13 goals. Xabi is also Spain’s 5th highest scoring midfielder to date. Unfortunately, my man had to be subbed out after receiving a horrible tackle from Hübschmann, who was automatically awarded a red card. Thank goodness, Xabi is fine (all man, all rock, all ginger).

Iker Casillas, as expected, was hardly tested, and this is his 150th cap for Spain. We also saw the return of Carles Puyol to national team duties since late last year, coming on for Sergio Ramos, who was also injured. I also thought Alvaro Arbeloa (bless his thigh) is performing much better these days. Javi Martinez, who came on for Xabi Alonso, also had two opportunities to add to the goal tally, both of which hit the crossbar.

1088, it’s 150 passes more than most teams accomplish in the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Nothing less from los campeones de Europa y del mundo.

And because I just had to:

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