Spain v Belarus –
Final Score/Result: Spain 2-1 Belarus
Man Of The Match: Sergio Ramos
Spain had to fight hard for a win over Belarus last night, taking them one step close to securing their place in the World Cup 2014 .
This was an important win for Spain, one which has now taken them three points clear of France at the top of the group. They are now in need of a draw against Gerogia in their next game, to ensure direct qualification ahead of France.
Vicente Del Bosque’s starting line-up had two surprises as Swansea striker Michu was preferred ahead of Negredo, while Iniesta had to be content with a place on the bench. Spain, as expected, dominated possession from the outset but failed to break through a well organised Belarus side. The visitors sat deep and denied them any space in behind the defence.
Michu, who had a disappointing debut, and Monreal were substituted in second half as Del Bosque looked to provide some impetus into the side. It took the World Champions 60 minutes to score their first goal in this game as Xavi’s low shot found its way past Gutor. 17 minutes later the home side doubled their lead with a wonderfully crafted goal. Pedro set up Sergio Ramos on the right with a wonderful back heel, and the Real Madrid defender produced an enticing cross for Negredo, who finished it off with a brilliant diving header.
In the dying moments of the game Belarus reduced the deficit as Sergei Kornilenko found himself in space inside the box and produced a composed finish past Valdes. The match might have ended in a Spanish win, but Belarus deserve a lot of credit for their spirit and defensive organisation. The fact that Spain managed to produce only three shots on target despite enjoying 76% of possession is certainly a thing to worry about for Vicente Del Bosque.
Del Bosque accepted that Spain struggled in this game to create opportunities, as they did against Finland and Georgia and insisted that they need to improve before the World Cup.
“It is true that the match seemed a repetition as recent others we have had.
“The games with Finland (in September), Georgia (last year) and Belarus have been kind of a copy.
“We can’t deny we struggled and we couldn’t score until the 15th minute in the second half (but) we can be satisfied. We carried on with our spirit (after taking the lead).
“The goal they scored complicated the match and it sowed concern in us because we weren’t comfortable.
“But the most important thing is we have taken a step forward in our aim that is trying to qualify for the World Cup.” – Del Bosque said.
Questions were also raised regarding the future of Iker Casillas, as Valdes was preferred to him in this game. But Del Bosque insisted that this decision had nothing to do with lack of faith in Casillas’ ability.
“I have already said we are going to try to act following the logic and common sense.
“Casillas got injured against Galatasaray (in September) and he just has played one game in these last five weeks, so we believed it was convenient that Victor took the place.
“This is not significant, we don’t say that in the future he is going to play or not but we keep the (incentive) for the others.” – he explained.
Spain v Belarus – Statistics
Statistics courtesy whoscored.com and soccernet.com
Sergio Ramos put up a solid display for Spain and was instrumental in building up play from the back. With all the big names disappointing in attack, Ramos perhaps produced the best attacking moments of the game with his wonderful cross to set up Negredo. Ramos also made 111 passess with a success rate of 86%, along with three interceptions. He was certainly the best player on the pitch last night.