Spain faced off against South American champions Uruguay in international friendly play on Wednesday. Though the match was very exciting, it was La Roja who pulled away with a 3-1 victory.
The Spanish side was missing stars such as Xavi and Xabi Alonso, as well as captain Iker Casillas. But that did not slow down their onslaught.
Spain cruised to victory on the back of Cesc Fabregas who opened the scoring and Pedro who followed with a brace. It is evident that the golden age of Spain is set to continue for some time.
However, no matter the outcome of a game, there will always be positives and negatives. In this article we will look at Spain’s winners and losers from their 3-1 victory over Uruguay.
Let’s begin, shall we?
If anyone is deserving of the title of a winner for Spain, it is Carles Puyol. The great defender made his 100th appearance with La Roja, and he now sits merely one cap behind sixth-placed Fernando Torres in the list of Spain's most capped players.
But the century mark was not as easy to reach as it may appear.
It has been nearly one year since Puyol’s last match for Spain, and many began to question whether he would ever play internationally again.
Injuries have played a big part in his recent absence, but his age is also very relevant as the Catalan is already 34. Puyol missed this summer’s Euro 2012 due to injury, and the absence could have become permanent.
The Spanish hero absolutely deserved his return to the national side, and his return will definitely be huge for La Roja.
The night was very special for Puyol, but he also showed that he is still one of the best. The defender was masterful and even scored a goal, though it was ruled out. Barcelona’s captain played a spectacular game, and it looks as if he still has plenty to contribute.
Carles Puyol is a winner if there ever was one.
There is a specific group of players who have been missing out lately, and Spain’s game against Uruguay certainly makes them the losers of the night. I am speaking, of course, of the Spanish strikers.
With La Roja now moving to a “false nine” attacking style, the traditional strikers may soon become surplus. Though Spain lifted the Euro 2012 trophy using a false nine, many did not expect the tactic to become permanent.
David Villa recently returned to the squad after recovering from his broken leg, and it was expected that he would take over as the striker with Fernando Torres struggling for form. Yet Vicente del Bosque opted for Cesc Fabregas again at the top of the attack.
Other strikers such as Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo will not have many chances to get major minutes for La Roja. Also players such as Michu who are deserving of a chance may never get one.
Strikers may be a thing of the past for Spain. Though the tactic may continue to work, every Spanish striker was a loser when the starting XI was announced for the match against Uruguay.
Vicente del Bosque did bring on multiple defenders at the end of the game, but it is clear that the striker-less formation is preferred.
One definite group of winners for Spain was the three young stars who made their international debut for La Roja. Cesar Azpilicueta, Isco and Mario Suarez all saw the pitch for their first time in a Spain shirt.
Azpilicueta has had a very good season for Chelsea and has certainly deserved his chance at the national team. Spain has been in need of a right-back for some time, and Azpilicueta showed that he could be one for the future.
No player is more deserving of a debut with Spain than Malaga’s Isco. The young midfielder is certainly the future of Spain, and it was only fitting that he replaced Andres Iniesta when subbed on.
Mario Suarez has also been a big name lately. The Atletico Madrid player has earned much praise recently, and it would have been an injustice not to have given him his debut.
All three of these young stars have now made history, and they can all be very important players in the future. But everyone will remember that their international careers began with a victory against Uruguay.
Juan Mata has been one of the Spanish players who have just been missing out on a permanent spot in the squad. Though the Chelsea attacker has not played badly for Spain, his future does not look bright.
Mata was upset last October when he was left out of the Spain squad as he thought that he had earned a spot on the team (via ESPN). But the winger was finally given his chance later in 2012 and it looks like Del Bosque is allowing Mata to show whether or not he is the right choice.
Against Uruguay, Juan Mata did not necessarily play badly. However, the Chelsea star just does not seem to fit with the rest of the squad.
The 24-year-old does not seem to connect with the other players and the tiki-taka style, which is something that could hurt his chances of a future role with the national team.
The night was certainly a loss for Mata, as he cannot control what system La Roja plays. He is a very talented player but just does not work in the Spanish style.
Mata’s future does not look bright as there are many other wingers who fit the style better, and the winger really needed to have a big showing against Uruguay.
Spain’s big win against the South American champions is largely due to a brace scored by Barcelona’s Pedro. He is the biggest winner of the night and has finally sealed his future with the national team.
Pedro’s two goals gave Spain the lead and sealed the victory as the winger looked very sharp. He is fitting in to the Spanish style very well and has become a very important performer.
With his brace, Pedro has now scored nine goals in his last six games for La Roja. Furthermore, his career total is an outstanding 11 goals in only 24 appearances.
Though Pedro used to be one of the players on the fringes of the main Spain squad, the winger has finally earned a permanent role.
Pedro is the biggest winner of the night because he has now added a new chapter to his career. Expect the 25-year-old to be an easy inclusion in the squad for World Cup 2014.
Who were the biggest winners and losers for Spain against Uruguay? What did you think of the result? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.