Confederations Cup: Most Intriguing Storylines to Watch For in Spain vs. Tahiti
Spain's Confederations Cup match against Tahiti is a little like David and Goliath.
The back-to-back European Championships winner, current World Cup holder and best team in international football are taking on Tahiti—easily the minnows of the 2013 Confederations Cup and unlikely to make any improvement on their current world ranking of 138th this week.
The match itself should simply be child's play for La Roja.
However, that doesn't make this fixture any less watchable and the storylines around it any less intriguing. After all, David did manage to beat Goliath.
Will that happen again in this one? Probably not, but there's still plenty to watch for, so read on and find out the most intriguing storylines between Spain and Tahiti.
Just How Ruthless Will Spain Be?
If you thought that Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque would have been happy with his side's 2-1 victory over Uruguay to kick-start the competition, then you were wrong. For despite dominating possession and all the attacking chances, the Spanish manager wanted his players to be more ruthless and score more goals—something that doesn't bode all that well for Tahiti.
The veteran manager was quoted by Reuters' Andrew Downie (via Yahoo! Sports) as saying the following:
We dominated at all times with the exception of when we struggled and let in a goal. At the end of 90 minutes, we were happy to hear the final whistle. We should have scored more and maybe we were tired, and also as a result of winning 2-0, that affects the players. They start to slow down, and that is why we suffered at the end.
Tahiti must be thinking "great, more goals..."
So just how many goals should we see in this one? After all, Spain probably should have been leading 4- or 5-0 heading into half-time against Uruguay.
Uruguay are ranked 19th in the world; Tahiti are ranked 138th.
Team Fenua were dispatched 6-1 by Nigeria in their opening round match, so it wouldn't be at all surprising to see the world champions reach double figures in this one—especially if they are going to be more ruthless in front of goal, as Del Bosque desires.
One can only hope it won't be another 31-0 embarrassment.
Can Tahiti Score a Goal? What Will the Response Be?
Despite being demolished in their opening match against Nigeria, Tahiti did manage to sneak a goal off a corner. And the response—both on and off the pitch—was incredible. On the field, there was a wonderful canoe celebration, and off it, well, it's safe to say they were pretty happy with the goal. And yes, that last tweet is real:
GOAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TAHITI!!!!!!! WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!!! #NeverGiveUp Tehau HERO!!!!!!— Tahiti Football (@TahitiFootball) June 17, 2013
VAHIRUA IS BETTER THAN MESSI #GoTahiti— Tahiti Football (@TahitiFootball) June 17, 2013
Imagine then what the result will be if they can nab a goal against La Roja.
Spain have arguably the best defense in international football, and if they can keep the likes of Italy scoreless in an international final, then they should be able to keep a clean sheet here. At least you'd like to think that Spain would be able to keep a clean sheet.
But for the thought of seeing how Tahiti would respond, I for one would love to see them score a goal and then witness the euphoria of their celebrations.
Even if it does finish 16-1.
Who Will Step Up on the Big Stage?
International tournaments are good for a number of things, but perhaps the greatest of them is the manner in which they always seem to unveil a new star or two.
And hopefully, the same will happen in this game here.
We all know that the likes of Andres Iniesta and Iker Casillas will play well, but what about some of the less-reputable stars? Will the likes of Marama Vahirua, Stephane Faatiarau and Jonathan Tehau again step up for Tahiti? Can some of Spain's fringe players—who could very well see good minutes in this one due to the class gap between the two teams—make their mark on the first team?
Names like Nacho Monreal, Raul Abiol, David Villa and Jesus Navas are all well-known, but struggle from time to time to keep their place in Spain's starting team.
With a strong performance here, they could well change that for the remainder of this tournament and, potentially, even for the World Cup in Brazil this time next year.
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