Spain saw off Georgia by the score of 2-0 in the last match of World Cup qualifying to book their place in Brazil as winners of Group I. Though the match was somewhat a formality, it still gave plenty of excitement for fans.
Vicente del Bosque’s men put in a fine performance, but Georgia refused to be a side thought. It was a wonderful way for both sides to end qualifying, and it taught us a decent bit as well.
In this article we will take a look at six things we learned from that match and what those things mean heading into World Cup 2014.
As always, please note that all statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Spain’s search for a regular striker has proved a tough issue over the past year. However, Alvaro Negredo is doing everything he can to fix the problem.
With his goal against Georgia, Negredo scored in all three World Cup qualifying matches this season and showed he has what it takes to lead the attack.
The Manchester City striker linked up well in attack and was a very strong target man. He worked hard off the ball and fit into the system well. His nine total shots proved his willingness to take chances, and it paid off.
Negredo may not be one of the world’s best strikers, but he is the best option for Spain at this point. His consistency is promising, but only time will tell what role he will play for La Roja under Vicente del Bosque.
Despite Negredo’s recent form for Spain, there is a much bigger issue. With all the talent La Roja has going forward, they continue to struggle to find goals.
The midfield play has been perfect and creating chances has been even better, but the final ball eludes Spain more than Vicente del Bosque would like.
If the reigning World Cup champions are to repeat the feat in Brazil, then there must be more direct play. Against tougher opponents, Spain will struggle to find goals and that will make things very difficult.
Now is the time for del Bosque to work on a way to get more out of the Spanish offense. There are many options available, but making them work is not that simple.
Georgia had absolutely nothing to lose against Spain and it showed. Having already been eliminated from the World Cup in Brazil, they looked to take Spain head on.
Though the outcome was completely in Spain’s favor, Georgia must be proud of their performance.
The visitors did not sit back and park the bus as much as expected. They pressed when they could and were not afraid to attack when on the ball.
World Cup dreams may be over for Georgia, but their fans should have nothing but joy for how well they competed against Spain. Though the result could have been better, it was a wonderful showing.
For the longest time, all creativity and scoring chances have been made by Xavi. Though the Barcelona man continues to be the brains of the midfield, the real brilliance is now coming through Andres Iniesta.
Iniesta is arguably the most dangerous man on the pitch every time Spain plays. His link up play and dribbling constantly get him into good position, and he remains the best partner for the Spanish forwards.
As Spain looks to continue their world dominance and seeks a second-straight World Cup title, Iniesta will prove to be the most important player in the squad.
Against Georgia, Iniesta was the player that did all the little things to help his teammates. His assist to Negredo came at the perfect moment, and he showed why he is one of the best players in the world.
There seems to be an ongoing debate whether Spain should still use the double pivot that brought success over the past few years or take advantage of the attacking options by using only one holding midfielder.
Both systems have their advantages and weaknesses, but the match against Georgia again showed that Spain is simply better when using a double pivot.
It may result in fewer chances going forward, but Spain seems to have much more control of the match and are less vulnerable to attacks when two players and are in front of the defense.
Lately, del Bosque has been opting to use Sergio Busquets as the lone holding midfielder alongside his Barcelona partners Xavi and Iniesta, but it may be time to get back to the basics.
Javi Martinez may prove to be a wonderful partner alongside Busquets, but it has to be tested before anyone can be sure. Regardless, if it isn’t broke it is probably best not to mess with it, and Spain’s double pivot is definitely not broken.
Spain needed at least a draw against Georgia to book their place in Brazil. They have played much better in the past, but they have also played much worse. This match was all about getting the job done, and that is exactly what Spain did.
There is still plenty of room for improvement for Spain. They are not perfect by any means and holding onto their World Cup title in Brazil will be difficult to put it lightly.
Over the next few months, La Roja will have to improve and find consistency. World Cup 2014 is quickly approaching, and Vicente del Bosque will be looking to have his best players ready for the trip.
Brazil, the reigning champions are on their way.
What did you learn from Spain’s victory? What improvements does La Roja need to make? Leave your thoughts and comments below!
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me for more discussions on La Furia Roja!