Reflections on an unnecessary match in Vaduz
I struggle to see the good that last night's game in Vaduz had for the Liechtenstein national side, Spanish team or even the benefits for UEFA, FIFA or just the game in general. The theory being that these smaller nations dream of playing against the bigger sides and it's a thrill to have the likes of Iniesta, Sergio Ramos or Piqué playing at the national stadium. That's one positive perspective. The reality is a "dead-rubber" game with one team infinitely superior to the other with little or no competition being offered. Liechtenstein has the same population as Andalusian town Ronda and two thousand more than Teruel in Aragon. The chances of them mounting a serious challenge to the likes of Spain are very, very remote.
The night ended in a goal-fest and Spain have now bagged 39 goals against Liechtenstein in eight meetings, all incidentally against goalkeeper Peter Jehle who has been the No. 1 with the Central European nation since debuting in 1998. La Roja had an easy night in Vaduz and were anxious to crank up the goals in the unlikely instance that they should tie the group with Italy. The highlight of the game was possibly the performance from Andres Iniesta who seemed to enjoy himself. I'm not sure why, but in recent games with Barça he appears to participate less in the action whilst last night's game in Vaduz and indeed on Saturday at the Bernabeu he was instrumental in all of the Spanish play in the centre of the park.
Group G appears to be heading to a conclusion which will see Spain qualifying automatically forcing Italy into a two leg play-off match in November and once the draw was made it would have been almost inconceivable to envisage any two but these nations progressing with the likes of Albania, Israel etc always destined to be absent from next summers World Cup. If there was another category then at least these smaller nations (the likes of Liechtenstein, San Marino, Gibraltar etc) would have some degree of incentive and likewise nations in the top tier wold have to avoid a relegation to the lower group. Club football in Europe with major competition such as the Champions and Europa Leagues feature a series of preliminary rounds and UEFA have already earmarked the "League of Nations" competition with four categories which will commence in September 2018. That's already a small step.