It will be very hard for a new-look Spanish squad to revive former glories quickly, midfielder Santi Cazorla said on Friday.
Coach Vicente del Bosque has overhauled the squad of the European champions, who crashed out in the group stage of this year’s World Cup, but it has not been a smooth transition. Spain have made a stuttering start to Euro 2016 qualification with two wins and a defeat by Group C leaders Slovakia which has left them in second place, three points off the pace. “You cannot compare the situation now,” Cazorla told reporters. “I know that it is inevitable but the Spain of the past will not return and we have to accept that.”
After Spain failed to retain the World Cup trophy, stalwarts Xavi, Xabi Alonso and David Villa announced their international retirements. Diego Costa was earmarked to lead Spain from the front into a new era but it took the Brazilian-born striker three qualifying matches to notch his first goal for his adopted country.
Other new faces have taken time to adapt and the quality of Spain’s football has been below the very high standards set in recent years. This has also led to friction in the camp and even the opening of old wounds about players’ commitment.
Defender Sergio Ramos suggested that maybe Cesc Fabregas and Costa were not giving their all for the national team as they are missing from Saturday’s qualifier against Belarus due to injury. Cazorla believes that a problem is the expectation caused by a side that dominated for four years and were widely admired for their passing style heavily influenced by that of Barcelona.
No Kompany for belgium
Belgium could give another outing to a three-pronged strike force laced with pace and power as they look to make up for the loss of defensive leader Vincent Kompany against Group B pacesetters Wales in Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Brussels.
Third place Belgium are three points behind the Welsh but have played one game fewer and can move above their opponents thanks to their superior goal difference, while Israel are sandwiched between the two in second place. Marc Wilmots’s side will again be without captain and central defender Kompany, who was badly missed as their fragile defence was frequently exposed in the friendly against Iceland on Wednesday despite a 3-1 win.