While various other big national teams, among them our group rivals Italy, are immeresed in the qualifying play-offs for the World Cup in Russia next summer, Spain are playing friendlies. A magnificent sign that everything turned out well in qualifying. Lopetegui has managed the team well, continuing with many of those who have been with the side for a long time now, bringing in others and giving a bigger role to those who had just come in, in particular Isco. Today against Costa Rica will be a great game for him and all of Málaga - you could say he's their favourite son right now. And he's deserved it. His presence, and maybe that of Kepa Arrizabalaga (the Athletic Club goalkeeper who Real Madrid are said to be keen to sign), are the big draws of the match.
Málaga excited by Costa Rica's visit
Málaga is looking forward to it expectantly. Costa Rica, even without Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell, is a good team; they've qualified for the World Cup and Spain could be in their group, because they are in a different pot. Just as Russia are, who we play on Tuesday in St Petersburg. The hosts are in pot 1, while we're in pot 2. Later, in March, there'll be two more games, one in Dusseldorf against Germany, and another expected to be against Brazil in the Wanda Metropolitano. It all sounds good, big names to test the side going into the World Cup, and shows the Federation have planned the run up to Russia 2018 well.
And that with the Spanish FA in the state it is. Villar, the president, is suspended, but he goes there from time to time and some people listen to him. Larrea, his stand-in, meanwhile, carries on. He's taken one decision that annoyed the big cheeses in the Spain set-up, getting rid of María José Claramunt as director of the national side. But by offering the job to Hierro, who is supported by many, he ensured the whole thing was a storm in a tea cup. Meanwhile, 22 November is fast approaching, when Villar can be impeached, if a candidate can get together two thirds of the votes in the assembly. It doesn't look easy.