Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Confederations Cup: Pain for Spain?

Spanish fans have no reason to panic following the team's third-place finish at the Confederations Cup. The reigning European champs were knocked off in the semis by a scrappy US squad and were less than impressive against South Africa in the third-place game, but one loss in 37 matches shouldn't impact their standing as favorites heading into next year's World Cup.

But from a strategical standpoint, the question should be asked: did the US write the book on how to beat Spain? The States' well-executed strategy of pushing the Spaniards to the flanks and forcing chip-ins by clogging up the middle will be replicated by future opponents.

So where does Spain go from here? Will the loss serve as a motivator or dent their confidence? From a confidence standpoint, a loss to the US was probably less damaging than if La Roja had fallen to Brazil in the Final. Spain knows on their best day they can beat teams like the US. A defeat against Brazil may have left them with more internal questions. We won't learn much from upcoming World Cup qualifiers; Spain are cruising against lesser foes. Next summer's World Cup will show if Spain and their opponents are ready to apply lessons learned in South Africa.

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