English football, historical significance
Yesterday, in this newspaper, I commented that the prestige of English football survives off of its results, and so it is. A World Cup, at home and fifty years ago. And two semifinals, one in the World Cup in Italy and another in the European Championships held in England. That is all they have mustered. Even so, facing them still carries some distinction. It is a prestige that comes from the very beginning of history. They invented football, they were the first professionals, for years they were looked up to. The first game that they lost at Wembley against a team from this continent was when Puskas’ Hungary visited in 1953, and this was reminiscent of the taking of the Bastille. It was known as 'The Game of the Century'.
Lopetegui's project on track
So, yes, they still have a certain awe about them. They are still one of the few teams against whom Spain has an unfavorable record. Victories over England have always been greeted by us as something special. Prestigious victories, like the one we’re looking for today. Lopetegui has started very well, making appropriate tweaks to get the team right, improving the mood in the camp, bringing in the fresh blood of Vitolo and giving the players a clear path to follow. After the outing in Italy, the tough nut of the group, things have gone well, although they could have gone even better. The games were won, two with goal feasts and before that they had gone to Belgium and returned victorious.
A worthwhile challenge
This is the final match of the first half after which there will be a restbite until Israel's visit in March. It matters that they close it off well. The Federation has given this game an heir of importance, inviting some of the squad’s absentees, including Piqué. Too bad he won’t be on the field. We are missing him, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Iniesta and Diego Costa, half of the starting team. This test, of course, is not an easy one. And there are no points up for grabs in the game, which reminds us just how easily this team lost friendlies even during its best period. But the challenge is worth it. Winning tonight would be a solvency guarantee for this new project.