6 Things We Learned from Spain's Victory over Ireland
As the Confederations Cup draws near, Spain saw off Ireland by a narrow score of 2-0, in a friendly meeting in New York City. Vicente Del Bosque has his side prepared for the competition in Brazil, but not all is perfect with La Roja.
A few lessons were learned despite the meeting with Ireland being only a friendly. The reigning World Cup winners showed they are still very much the side they were in 2010, but that also brings problems for the present and future.
Continue reading to find out six things that we learned about Spain, and feel free to give what you took away from the match in the comments below.
Spain Still Lacks a Real Scoring Threat
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La Roja is better known for their ability to keep possession than anything else. However, it is quickly becoming useless with the absence of a target man up-front.
The days of David Villa and Fernando Torres pairing a deadly strike force are over. Vicente del Bosque desperately needs to find a new option to lead the attack for La Roja.
Even in a friendly, Ireland looked way too relaxed while sitting back in defense.
If Spain cannot find an answer to their scoring problems then the coming years will not be as promising as they seem. Strikers such as Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo give more options up front for Spain, but it is unlikely that they will revamp the striking position.
David Villa looked very comfortable on the pitch against Ireland, but it was clear that he was not the ruthless assassin that he once was. Perhaps it is time to give youth a try.
The Spanish Corner Kicks Need Work
For the countless corner kicks Spain had against Ireland, there was absolutely nothing to show for it. Del Bosque needs to tweak the corner taking routine to give La Roja another dimension.
For the longest time, Carles Puyol and Sergio Ramos proved to be a formidable tandem in the box. But now that Puyol is no longer a regular for the Spain squad, there is only one real target on a corner.
Spain has also utilized the quick pass from the corner to keep possession and set back up in front of the box. But with defenses now understanding how to defend the Tiki-Taka style of play, the quick passes make corners relatively useless.
Teams should regret putting the ball out for a corner, yet against Spain is seems almost welcome. La Roja will never be a truly dangerous side in the air, but at least a bit of surprise might catch defenses off guard.
Santi Cazorla and Pedro Have Earned Their Spots
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Both Santi Cazorla and Pedro have been fighting for their places in the Spanish squad for a while now, and it is easy to recognize that their work has paid off.
Spain scored two goals against Ireland, with Pedro assisting the first strike and Cazorla the second. The two attackers look comfortable in the style and, more importantly, bring fresh new hunger to an already accomplished team.
Pedro has been in incredible form for Spain all year and is actually stating his case to possibly start important matches now. His link up with the midfield has been tremendous and his offensive contribution cannot be denied.
Cazorla on the other hand has had a much harder road to recognition.
With Spain already possessing a loaded midfield, there really was no room for Cazorla. And although the Arsenal man will not take the spot of Iniesta or Xavi, he has made himself known to the fans of La Roja.
Cazorla provides something new to the midfield. His direct style of play and ability to blast shots from outside the box actually gives the Spaniards something that is desperately needed.
Though neither of these players will likely become a regular starters for La Roja, they may actually be the two most important players on the bench next year.
An Ambitious Side Can Upset Spain
Ireland never posed much of a threat to Spain, but the same weaknesses were seen in glimpses. This Spanish side is still very weak to the counterattack and that rough patch may actually be getting worse.
La Roja has been found out—mostly due to defenses learning how to play against Barcelona. With Jordi Alba providing the only real speed at the back, an ambitious side could get the better of Spain.
We saw it happen against France just a few months ago.
The French side faced Spain without fear and took every chance they got when possession found them. It is only a matter of time until another established team is able to exploit the weakness in the all-but-perfect Spanish machine.
Though the counterattack may not be enough to beat Spain, it gives opponents hope. And hope is one of the most deadly things an opponent can have; especially against one of the greatest teams in history.
Andres Iniesta Must Take Spain Forward
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Spain continue to dazzle with beautiful football and dominant displays. Little changes for del Bosque’s men, but a changing of the guard may be in order.
La Roja has long been thought of as Iker Casillas’ team. If not Casillas, many would argue for Xavi or Carles Puyol being the leader. But that has changed.
Andres Iniesta now runs the show for Spain and there is no denying it.
If being the hero of World Cup 2010 and winning the award of the best player in Europe did not do it, then his recent matches have.
Iniesta arguably performed better than Lionel Messi for Barcelona this season and has been the spark in the Spanish lineup during important matches. His pairing with Jodi Alba has been immense and his linking up of the attack with the midfield has been the difference-maker.
Iker Casillas and Xavi will continue to be irreplaceable players for Spain, but the deciding factor for La Roja is Andres Iniesta. He is the performer that will win the important games and he is the key to Spain's continued success.
Spain Is Still Very Much the Best Team on the Planet
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Every team in the world has their weaknesses and issues, and Spain is no different. Yet, despite the clear areas that need work, La Roja remains the best team on the planet—without question.
It was Spain’s pure class that brought them victory against Ireland. The side in green kept a strong line of defense throughout the game but in the end was not able to stop a side that was simply just better.
Spain has the time to give attention to their weaknesses and work to become an even stronger side. The country still boasts the brightest upcoming stars in the world and will not be in need of talent for a very long time.
There day will eventually come when Spain is toppled, but that day seems very far away.
Spain has the talent, style, experience and hunger that a winning side requires. Expect La Roja to win the Confederations Cup and possibly even their next trip to Brazil.
How does the Spanish side look? What changes does Del Bosque need to make? Is Spain still the best in the world? Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on La Liga and all Spanish football.