Thursday, June 17, 2010

La Furia Roja Unbeaten Run Ended By Swiss Resistance

Spain dominated open play, totalling 63% of ball possession and 42 minutes of actual playing time compared to the Swiss team's 37% and 25 minutes, but in the end, fell to a smash-and-grab goal from ex-Manchester City player, Gelson Fernandes in the 51st minute.

No team has ever won the World Cup after losing in their opening match and as such, Spain must defy history as well as their own mental frailties to lift the trophy come July 11th. A solid Swiss defence and inability to deal with Jabulani's erratic attributes put paid to Spain's total dominance in this match.

Much heralded David Villa did not have much to feed on as he was well-muscled by the Swiss defenders in the penalty area. He did have one chance in the box which he should have done better but his touch and control let him down.

Fernando Torres and Jesus Navas came on late in the second half and did their best to tip the game over to Spain. A superb left foot curler from Navas had the excellent Diego Benaglio beaten but the ball went just wide. Nando Torres lacked a bit of sharpness when he was put through by David Villa and ended up ballooning his shot while trying a curler into the top right hand corner.

Suddenly, Spain are creeping into a state that France found themselves in during the 2002 World Cup. France lost 1-0 to Senegal in their opening game and never recovered, meekly surrendering their title won in 1998 and exited the 2002 World Cup in the group phase without scoring a single goal.

Do the European champions have the mental toughness to brush aside a match which they totally dominated and yet lost? A bit premature to raise questions about the Spanish "fragile" mentality, it now looks like that final group match against Chile will be crucial if Spain hopes to top the group and avoid Brazil in the first knockout round.

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