Minggu, 03 Juni 2012

Spain avoid China crisis in Seville

The World Champions completed their preparation in defence of their European title tonight with a 1-0 win over China in Seville.

Spain played an unimpressive first half creating little of note and indeed it was the visiting Chinese, coached by former Real Madrid and La Roja legend Jose Antonio Camacho, which came closer to scoring.

Striker Zheng Zhi wasted two good opportunities by finding the side netting and Iker Casillas' legs instead of the goal.

But the Spanish came out for the second half like raging bulls, thanks in no small part to the introduction by coach Vicente del Bosqueof the attack-minded Andres Iniesta, Jesus Navas and Fernando Torres.

And the home side soon had the tiki-taka flowing with that familiar quickness of feet and telepathic passing and movement we have grown to know so well over the past few seasons.

Before long, Iniesta and Torres had thumped the woodwork. Chinese dreams of stealing a famous win evaporated as their red shirts were pinned back into their own half, unable to launch any more of the dangerous  incursions they had made before the break.

A Spanish strike looked likely as Del Bosque's men funneled forward but the home supporters in the Olympic Stadium had to wait until the 84th minute for a goal before David Silva finished off a passing move by side-footing into the net from close range. Their 4-3-3 promotion ended up utterly dominating China's 4-2-3-1 with 72% of possession.

Spain could have added more as they finished very strongly, erasing a toothless first 45 minutes in the process and sending a message to the Euro 2012 qualifiers that they are not about to let go of their trophy in a hurry.

The Euro 2008 winners begin their title defence against Italy next Sunday in Gdansk, before group games against Eire and Croatia.

China meanwhile are on a long road of rebuilding having missed out on World Cup 2014 after defeats to Iraq and Jordan in the third round of AFC qualifying in late 2011/early 2012.

-Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile


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