The first game Spain played after winning the World Cup was in Argentina, a friendly that was basically a result of cronyism between Ángel María Villar and Julio Grondona, the then-chiefs of the nations' FAs. Held in September's unpopular international break, it was poorly timed: La Roja's players were short on preparation, or the desire for the trip, having just got through another of those exhausting pre-seasons of endless travelling. The venue was River's home ground, where the grass was dry as a bone and came up to your ankles. We took a 4-1 hiding and, given we were the new world champions, it's fair to say it was one of our most harrowing defeats ever. The Argentine press had a field day with us. To give them their dues, though, they had just as much of a field day with their own team yesterday.
Tuesday's Wanda walloping banishes memory of 2010 defeat
After the final whistle on Tuesday, someone suggested to me the witty, vengeful headline: "Nadal 6, Del Potro 1". I didn't take them up on it, although I'll not pretend it didn't make me chuckle. However, it did cause me to recall a phrase I heard someone - Jorge Valdano, I think - say a while ago: "Football always gives you the chance for revenge". It's true. This 'set' inflicted on Argentina on the eve of the World Cup banishes the memory of that walloping in Buenos Aires. Granted, they were without Lionel Messi, but, back in 2010, we couldn't have been more underprepared had we tried. And as for the merciless ribbing we took in Argentina: I'd say they've more than made up for that with their reaction to their own team's disastrous showing at the Wanda Metropolitano. That has evened things up.
It's pleasing to see Isco lifted out of his Real doldrums
And talking of getting even, I like the way Isco has, amid the sorry situation he's enduring at Real Madrid, turned the footballing tables this international week. These two games have lifted him out of the doldrums. Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has complete faith in him, and he pays back that trust, because he plays full of confidence, and plays well. It's a virtuous circle; the opposite of what is happening to him under Zinedine Zidane, who doles out so much of his confidence to Karim Benzema that he barely has any left for anyone else. Isco could get more game time if Benzema got less, but that doesn't look to be on the cards. Happily for the Andalusian, room is being found for him in the Spain team, we're in a World Cup year, and he gave a virtuoso display in a box-office clash at the Wanda.