Spain’s domination of Uruguay in their opening Confederations Cup match suggested that reports of tiki taka’s demise are premature,regardless of what happened in the Champions League this season.
First half goals from Pedro and Roberto Soldado put Spain in complete control and the final 2-1 scoreline,after Luis Suarez pulled one back with a stunning free kick in the 88th minute,failed to reflect a one-sided encounter.
The ageing Uruguayan side may be a pale reflection of the team which reached the 2010 World Cup semi-finals and won the Copa America the following year,but they are still a feisty and dangerous outfit not to be taken lightly.
But,like many before them,they found themselves unable to get the ball off Spain and then quickly hassled out of possession when they did have it.
Edinson Cavani,topscorer in Italy’s Serie A this season,barely saw the ball and Suarez was also a lonely figure.
“It’s very difficult to generate any kind of danger when you don’t touch the ball,” a bemused Suarez told reporters. “Spain are the best team in the world and they’re contenders to win the World Cup.”
Germany’s doubly whammy in the Champions League semi-finals,where Bayern Munich ousted Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund eliminated Real Madrid,has led to suggestions of a shift in the balance of power.
Bayern’s 7-0 aggregate win over Barcelona,in particular,was hailed in some quarters as the end of tiki taka.
But there seemed plenty of life left in Vicente del Bosque’s side,who were so dominant at one point in the second half that the crowd got bored and started booing as they stroked the ball around the pitch.
Several personalities stood out during Sunday’s match,the first international to take place in Recife’s Arena Pernambuco.
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas returned to captain the side and his 800th professional appearance was his first competitive game since January.
Roberto Soldado,the Valencia forward who was the only one of Spain’s starting 11 not to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid,capped a fine performance with his sixth goal in 10 international outings.
Andres Iniesta was imperious in midfield,as usual.
“It’s our good luck that he’s Spanish but the whole team were spectacular,” said Sergio Busquets. “We all have the same philosophy and the same system,even though there is a difference between playing with Xabi Alonso and Iniesta.”
Iniesta echoed the thoughts of coach Del Bosque and said Spain should have won by more.
“Spain played a wonderful game,we needed a third goal to feel at ease and at the end 2-1 it looks like the result is tighter but I think given what we did and the way we played we deserved to score more goals,” Iniesta said.
The win took Spain’s unbeaten run to 23 matches since their 2-1 defeat by England in November 2011 with minnows Tahiti next in the firing line in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.
Iniesta warned the World and European champions will treat them like any other rival.
“We know they are inferior (to Uruguay) but we have to respect all our rivals and that is the only thing in our minds right now,” he said.