Spain swim upstream and keep their head above water

As mentioned previously, the game against the Faroe Islands was an ill-timed affair for Spain and their having to contend with a group of players in holiday mode, the forced absence of their head coach (no-one knows when he'll return), the frustration of not being in Portugal to compete in the latter stages of the Nations League - which no doubt rankled - and the plain evidence that this Faroe Islands side would not mobilise anyone or anything. On top of that, there were two other factors running in parallel: the death of Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, a symbol of Spain's state television, a pioneer of unforgettable TV formats, and the son of Narciso Ibáñez Menta, whose Historia para no dormir (Stories to Stay Awake) became legendary in Spain; the other was, finally, Real Madrid signing quasi-galáctico Eden Hazard.  

Artificial pitch

Added to the above was the strange artificial pitch and its confusing bounce. Luis Enrique's men were supposedly warned about this playing surface; I use the word 'supposedly' - there were no comments prior to the game - because of the lack of precision and the fact that this group of players train on a similar pitch in Las Rozas, just outside Madrid. However, they didn't use it to practice on in order to avoid injuries, as Robert Moreno explained in the hours leading up to the game. In the end, there were no injuries and La Roja progressed with a solid 1-4 scoreline that also brought up a record number of wins under the captaincy of Sergio Ramos.

Living in the shadow of Xavi and Iniesta

Ultimately, the occasion turned out well for a Spain side currently in a process of rebuilding from the remains of past glories, a process which bears a resemblance to the situation at Barcelona and their gradual decline. La Roja have been looking for two non-existent Xavi and Iniesta lookalikes to preserve a style that I'm afraid the two midfielders took with them. Every player who now joins up with La Selección feels they are being compared, regardless of whether it is in the Faroe Islands, the Bernabéu or Timbuktu, to something that will never return. For precisely that reason, when I watch them get a good result in an odd match played 'out of season' and with other news stories barging into the same television channel on which the match is broadcast, I take my hat off to them.