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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Spain 5-0 New Zealand

Torres 6, 14, 16
Fabregas 24
Villa 48

Rafa Benitez must be getting nervous. Real Madrid's moneybags President Florentino Perez has reportedly set his sights on Xabi Alonso and, after his performance in this dominant victory over New Zealand, you can hardly blame him. The Liverpool midfielder dictated the game from the start, easing his passes around the pitch without breaking sweat. Imagine watching him tucked in behind Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and whoever else they sign in this crazy summer transfer window.

Perez, and indeed almost all Spanish football fans, will have been rubbing their hands with glee watching this display. With no Marcus Senna to anchor the midfield, Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque plonked Alonso right in front of the back four, but instead of detailing him to thrash around the pitch breaking up attacks, he was deployed as a silky quarter-back. For some reason, Kiwi coach Ricki Herbert failed to see that giving Alonso time on the ball was fatal and it wasn't for the lack of hints. Time and time again the ball was played back behind the centre circle for him to spray it in front of David Villa or Fernando Torres or Xavi or Albert Reira or Cesc Fabregas or, well, you get the point. Spain have such an embarrassment of attacking riches . Giving Alonso the chance to bring them all into play was insane.

Torres will hog the headlines for his 16 minute hat-trick, completed as always with the grace and style that we've come to expect of the young man, but he will experience tougher tests than this. New Zealand deserve great credit for trying to play fluid, attacking football, they certainly offered more than Iraq or South Africa in the day's earlier game, but they were utterly, utterly outclassed. The shock and awe of the Iberian assault left them walking off the pitch at the break in a daze. Things didn't improve after half-time when Andy Boyens air-kicked in his own six yard box, allowing David Villa to stroke home the easiest goal of his career.

Del Bosque's hardest task as manager of Spain has been attempting to reduce expectations, but that's not going to get any easier now. This thumping victory was the 33rd time that Spain have left the field without losing. They will be runaway favourites for next summer's World Cup and rightly so. Their fans, so accustomed to following the flakey, inconsistent outfits of yesteryear, now find themselves watching the genuine powerhouse of European football.

Of course, not all of them will be so pleased. International success raises domestic profiles and I can think of one Merseyside-based Spaniard who will be furrowing his brow at the sight of Alonso pulling the strings so expertly. Real Madrid have bottomless pockets while Liverpool, given the state of their finances, apparently have pockets with big holes in. The board will never sanction the sale of Torres, as was so ludicrously suggested this weekend, but they might consider letting someone else go, especially at the prices that Real Madrid can afford. Liverpool fans beware.
 
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