5 Things We Learned from Spain's World Cup Win over Finland
Spain moved three points clear at the top of their qualifying group and one step closer to Brazil next summer with a 2-0 win over Finland in Helsinki.
Without a number of regulars—Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso were among those missing—there was still a familiar feel to the La Roja side which set up camp outside the host's area.
The visitor's pressure eventually paid off when Jordi Alba popped up in a striker's position to cleverly give Spain the lead in the first half.
Counter-attacks here and there briefly roused the home crowd, but Spain's domination of possession eventually paid off when Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo, both off the bench, combined for the latter to add the second score.
News of France's goalless draw with Georgia was further good news for Spain, on what turned out to be a more than satisfactory evening at the top of Group I.
Here are some of the main talking points to develop from the win.
Casillas Is the Chosen One
The time Iker Casillas doesn't spend on the Real Madrid bench at the moment is probably spent looking at his own face on newspapers and websites in the Spanish capital.
That's because a huge deal has been made of San Iker's situation at the Bernabeu in the Spanish capital.
But while Jose Mourinho's technical decision to play Diego Lopez has been carried into Carlo Ancelotti's tenure, Casillas still has Spain.
There was never any doubt really, but Vicente del Bosque once again reaffirmed his commitment to the keeper by starting him in Spain's win over Finland.
So while neither Real Madrid's nor Manchester United's No. 1 can make La Roja's squad Casillas remains firmly between the sticks.
Players in Spain Still Reign
Every transfer window seems to throw up more stories about the exodus of talent from Spanish football.
Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez, both at Bayern Munich, are examples of those fleeing to Germany, while Joaquin, Jose Callejon and Raul Albiol have taken stock in Italy.
And as for England, people are beginning to lose count of the number of Spaniards who call the Premier League home.
But while most of them cite breaking into the national team among their reasons for departing, very few actually started for Spain in Friday's 2-0 win over Finland.
Of Vicente del Bosque's starting 11, only Napoli's Albiol plies his trade away from La Liga.
The rest of the team were made up of Real Madrid (two), Atletico Madrid (three) and Barcelona (five)—although Manchester City duo, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo, did come on to combine for the second goal.
Parking the Bus Is Rarely the Answer
Finland may have snatched a draw when the two sides met in Spain, but they were never likely to repeat that feat on Friday night.
Defending this deep when they were 1-0 down didn't necessarily help.
One Finnish newspaper had joked they would defend by parking the bus, and, as is often the case when teams meet La Roja, they weren't too far wrong.
It was never likely to prevail though, and Spain eventually picked them off with relative ease—although there were a couple of hair-raising moments.
Where Were the Right-Backs?
There is nothing wrong with Atletico Madrid's Koke.
The 21-year-old has been one of his club's finest performers of the Diego Simeone era, played a key part in Spain's Under-21 success this summer and deservedly received his first full international cap against Ecuador last month.
But as a midfielder.
Injuries, suspensions or otherwise, though, Vicente Del Bosque should not end up in a position whereby he has to play Koke at right-back.
Let's take a look at his options: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Martin Montoya (Barcelona), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid) and Hugo Mallo (Celta Vigo).
Admittedly some had knocks and others were with the Under-21s, but, while the rest weren't called up, you have to ask why?
Suarez' Stay Is Temporary
Efficient as he was, it was going to take something special for Atletico Madrid's Mario Suarez to force his way into Vicente del Bosque's first team ahead of the World Cup—and even that might not have been enough.
Wearing La Roja's No. 4 shirt, Suarez lined up in midfield with Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
Unfortunately, the players who were unable to take part in the win are likely to replace him at a canter. Del Bosque has his favorites.
Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets will no doubt take up the double pivot when fit, while Javi Martinez has been bossing midfields in Germany—even Suarez's colleague Koke and Real Madrid's Asier Illarramendi should find themselves above him in the pecking order.