How our rivals fared

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Scottish
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How our rivals fared

Post by Scottish » Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:51 am

A round-up of how our Euro 2012 rivals got on in their friendly matches.

Liechtenstein drew 1-1 in Estonia after leading for almost the entire first half. Only a penalty prevented a rare away win.

Lithuania lost 2-0 in Hungary, a result which augurs well for their visit to Hampden.

The Czechs drew 0-0 in Denmark, a result which isn't quite as good from our perspective. The Danes failed to convert a penalty.

The result of the night though and a far bigger shock than what happened at Wembley was Portugal thrashing Spain 4-0. Forget any friendly talk. Meetings between this pair are as friendly as an England-Scotland match as bookings for Busquets and Ronaldo inside the first ten minutes shows. Nor was the Spanish side an experimental line-up like so many other international teams this week. In an attempt to show the joint Iberian World Cup 2018 bid in the best possible light both countries fielded full-strength teams. This was the Spanish starting eleven: Casillas; Ramos, Puyol, Piqué, Capdevila; Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi; Silva, Iniesta, Villa.

Okay, there were changes at the break and later in the second half but they hardly weakened Spain while Portugal removed Ronaldo at the interval. Torres, Farbregas & Marchena came on at half-time for Spain when it was 1-0 and at 2-0 down they introduced Llorente & Cazorla. Arbeloa was the final Spanish change.

The Spanish press (Mundo Deportivo) are claiming that Portugal took the match much more seriously (well, they would, wouldn't they?) while Sport leads its front page on the web with Leo Messi's winning goal for Argentina against Brazil in Qatar while admitting it was a sad end to Spain's most glorious year. AS is at least to the point with the headline "Portugal gives us an Iberian beating" while Marca claimed Spain played "worse than ever before."

Allied to the headlines facing our friends in the south in tomorrow's papers and perhaps we can permit a wee bit of schadenfraude to creep in. For once it isn't Scotland that are facing dog's abuse - even if it has got to the stage that a 3-0 win over the Faroes while playing one striker at home is a cause for celebration.

One final observation, for the benefit of those who keep claiming "there are no easy matches in international football any more" - Finland EIGHT San Marino NIL

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Re: How our rivals fared

Post by msdkfc » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:21 am

David, could you explain why the Spanish joined together with Portugal for their World Cup bid? I've often wondered why this was the case, it seemed a little strange to me. Was there an issue with the number and/or size of stadiums that the Spanish have, for example? As i understand it, the Spainsh will use 7 stadiums and the Portugese 3 - the homes of Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica.

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Re: How our rivals fared

Post by Scottish » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:53 am

I think it was a political decision more than anything else. Spain hosted the 1982 finals which had 52 matches, twelve fewer than the current format, but spread over 17 venues and 14 cities. So I don't think there was anything to stop Spain submitting a single bid other than the comparative recentness of their hosting when compared to one major rival - England. A joint bid with Portugal allowed the fact that they had held the tournament at all to offset another major rival - Russia. There's also the touchy subject of national feeling and identity within Spain and a unified Iberian bid will be much more warmly received in some areas than a solely Spanish one.

BTW it was interesting to note that not only did Portugal and Spain meet in the last internationals before the decisions are taken on venues for the 2014 and 2018 tournaments but that Spanish and Portuguese clubs found absolutely no problem in freeing their South American players to play for either Argentina or Brazil in Doha the same day. A most remarkable gesture of sportsmanship in these days when players pull out of internationals at the twinge of an ankle.

Well, either that or a way of making sure all the top players from four of the top eight ranked sides in the world were on display at two of the potential 2014 & 2018 venues on the same day. Not that I'm suggesting collusion or anything like that. I'm sure the next time Brazil or Argentina play a money-spinning friendly in Europe the Iberian clubs will release any players requested and any call-offs will be due to genuine injuries, much along the lines we have come to know and respect with regard to Scottish players.

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