Spain long ago took the bull by the horns and instead of fighting it, it was in charge of taming it. It is the style that was once the Red Fury that today may well be the Iberian Style. This is how they thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 in the start of Qatar 2022. Maximum beating that the European team has achieved in a World Cup.
And that is what happens when the style is defended by players like Pedri, Gavi, Jordi Alba and especially Sergio Busquets. Yes, the only survivor of the 2010 champion team continues to be the pillar where the Iberian game is sustained.
There were 102 touches by Busi, half of them made in the opposite field. 96 passes from the midfielder, only he made almost as many as Costa Rica: 121 in the 63 minutes he was on the field. At the age of 34, his call was questioned a lot -Barcelona’s bad moment tarnished his performance-, but in the first game he left behind every doubt.
“The only number 5 I’ve met who is a number 10 and does everything right is Busquets,” said the ‘romantic’ Riquelme, perhaps the player who loved the ball the most. “Busquets confused football”, he sentenced. It is that, from seeing the Spanish midfielder, today football is expected to be born from the feet of the mixed midfielder. But Busquets there is only one.
This Spain plays with style, not the one that is played in the neighborhood fields, nor the one in the pastures. It has more of a living room, of a coliseum. Where the ball passes from foot to foot faster than the rival can realize the destination. This is how Costa Rica lived it, who ran and ran, but only had the position in 15%. How frustrating to play soccer without having the ball!
And Spain with its style protected its goal. Having the ball prevented Costa Rica from generating danger. The ‘Ticos’ only touched the ball in the Spanish area three times. Three times! Eight in the last 15 meters of the field. They never appeared on the field, they never finished off on goal.
Stats that silence all critics of possession. 85% for Spain, a total of 1043 passes with a 94% success rate, to give it to the teammate. Each goal was preceded by a long domain. 27 touches before Asencio’s goal, 16 before Morata’s goal.
This Spain is the result of the process as well. Gavi, author of the sixth goal, is the youngest Spaniard to score in the World Cup -at 18 years and 100 days he lowered Raúl’s 20 in France 1998-, but he is also part of a process. He played in the Sub 15, Sub 16 and Sub 18. He followed the Sub 21, but his talent led him directly to the senior team, where he made his debut in September 2021. And in less than a year he earned a quota for the world.
Thus, Pedri played in the Sub 17, Sub 21 and was part of the Olympic team in Tokyo that reached the final against Brazil. Dani Olmo the same, all the minor divisions and European Under 21 champion in 2018. And so, many others.
Enthusiasm Spain, yes. But against Costa Rica they found a rival that gives them advantages to carry out their football. In the Qualifiers it was difficult for him to transfer his dominance to the goal. They tied with Greece at home, lost to Sweden on a visit and on the last date they avoided the play-off with a goal from Morata in the 86th minute over the Swedes.
This Saturday will perhaps be the real thermometer before a needy Germany. Two world champions facing each other with clear objectives: Spain seeks the victory of the classification, the Teutons the points so as not to be eliminated.
World Cup wins
- Portugal 7-0 North Korea – South Africa 2010
- Turkey 7-0 South Korea – Sweden 1954
- Uruguay 7-0 Scotland – Sweden 1954
- Poland 7-0 Haiti – Germany 1974
- Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Qatar 2022
- Germany 8-0 Saudi Arabia – Korea-Japan 2002
- Uruguay 8-0 Bolivia – Brazil 1950
- Sweden 8-0 Cuba – France 1938
- Hungary 10-1 El Salvador – Spain 1982
- Hungary 9-0 South Korea – Sweden 1954
- Yugoslavia 9-0 Zaire – Germany 1947