Spain through and avoid Brazil

Our football team is not the high-flying one that was expected, given the quality and experience of its players, but it’s doing enough. One win, two draws, five points and top of the group. That takes us on a separate path from Brazil, whom we would not meet, if we were to make it, until the final. In the meantime we have to play Ivory Coast in Saturday’s quarter-finals (4 am ET, 10 am CEST) and if we get past them, the winner of New Zealand vs Japan will await us in the semi-finals. France (one of the favourites), Germany and Romania are out, so Spain is the only European side to have reached the quarter-finals. So much for the good news.

Goal scoring the Spanish problem

Truth be told, apart from that, there is not much else to boast about. The team’s style is good, but didn't have the strength it was believed to have, while scoring goals has cost them wins. This Wednesday it was seen once again. De la Fuente returned to the attack of the first match, that of Asensio-Oyarzabal-Olmo. They linked up well, and created shooting positions regularly, especially Oyarzabal, but they weren’t able to capitalise on them. They couldn’t even force Cádiz’s Argentine goalkeeper, Ledesma, into being the hero of the match. Instead efforts were fired straight at the stopper or wide of his goal. In the end the goal came from further back, as captain Merino got himself involved.

Spain’s aura needs to be found

What was to follow was worse. The team became complacent, conceded a goal, and then were all over the place. Argentina, who had travelled to Tokyo with a thread-bare squad, due to club refusals, bared their teeth and gave us a scare. All they needed was to be Argentines, and to bring out that neighbourhood canchero spirit to intimidate us. That lack of fortitude after the equaliser worried me more than our inaccurate finishing. A group like this is supposed to have a hierarchy to avoid being shaken by an opponent like this particular Argentina, but we were. That said, we continue onwards, but our aura is fading. On Saturday let’s see…