It was clear prior to the 2022 World Cup that Luis Enrique had his Spain team organized. They had been progressing well since Euro 2020 and expected to reach the semi-finals in Qatar.
Whilst it’s not always wise to draw conclusions from one match, the 7-0 dismantling of Costa Rica was eye-opening. So dominant was La Roja’s victory, they may well start to readjust their pre-tournament aims.
Germany’s defeat to Japan earlier in the day was the first part of Spain’s turning point. Die Mannschaft were predicted to win the group, but are immediately in trouble.
Their defeat to Japan gives Spain the chance to secure qualification after just two matches.
Spain are better than people realized
Costa Rica were disappointing on Wednesday. They were weak defensively and had no attacking outlet. It was a shadow of the team that so brilliantly shocked the globe in 2014.
With that being said, Spain were magnificent. Gavi and Pedri are two stupendously talented young footballers. That was clear. However, Wednesday showed they could be the next Xavi and Iniesta.
Sergio Busquets could have played in his slippers. He was in his element. Sat just behind the two energetic prodigies, the veteran simply sprayed the ball around the pitch at will, pulling Costa Rican defenders out of position.
A fluid frontline of Ferran Torres, Marco Asensio and Dani Olmo drew criticism prior to kick-off. By half-time there wasn’t a negative word to be found.
The trio interlinked so well, inspired by Olmo’s verticality and they made chances with ease.
This was a dynamic that few envisaged within the current La Roja team. Many anticipated that Luis Enrique would stick with a no.9 in Alvaro Morata. Instead, the coach was brave and showed his team to have another dimension.
Group E has a clear road-map after dramatic opening day
La Roja’s victory puts them in a fantastic position. Their goal difference is phenomenal and they face Germany next.
Germany are low on confidence after a surprise defeat to Japan. Spain will take advantage of that when they meet on Sunday evening.
Victory in that game would guarantee progression for Spain. A draw would essentially do the same.
The problem in Group E is the fact that Costa Rica look so weak. Japan shouldn’t have any trouble against them.
On the evidence of Wednesday, the 2010 World Cup winners should have no trouble against Germany. Group E has a clear road-map which could see two teams through after two games.
Should La Roja re-evaluate their World Cup aims?
Winning 7-0 at a World Cup finals is rare. Luis Enrique’s charges need to enjoy the moment.
They should, though, ask themselves whether they are further along than they thought.
Luis Enrique’s coaching has been impressive since he resumed control of the team. Wednesday showed that the essence of tiki-taka is alive and well.
Gavi and Pedri could be the world’s best midfield duo in 1-2 years. They are already spectacular. In my pre-tournament preview of Spain’s chances for World Soccer Talk, I suggested the team didn’t have a world class player. Gavi and Pedri could prove me spectacularly wrong by the time we reach the final at the Lusail Stadium.
Photo credit: IMAGO / Agencia MexSport