Spain’s trip to Puerto Rico to fill the coffers of the Spanish Federation with €2m was always going to be more of an obligation than a lesson in what to expect from the World and double European champions going forward and so it proved.
Ranked 138 in the world, Puerto Rico fought bravely, but despite what the 2-1 scoreline may suggest, the gulf in class here was evident from the outset.
Indeed the most telling event of the night may be the knee injury picked up by Juanfran that is likely to see the right-back miss Atletico Madrid’s League opener against Levante on Sunday and could even see him ruled out of the European Super Cup final against Chelsea at the end of the month.
So what can be learned from a friendly against a far inferior team on the other side of the Atlantic just three days before the League season gets underway?
Well, for one this was a Spanish system with a striker and one who looked in good touch. Fernando Torres wasn’t able to make it a hat-trick having scored in his last two appearances at the European Championship final in Kiev and in the English Community Shield on Sunday but he was a constant threat and was only denied by a pair of wonderful saves from Puerto Rican keeper Bill Gaudette.
Instead the goals came from Arsenal past and present as Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas scored within two minutes just before half-time. And after the news earlier in the day about Robin Van Persie’s move to Manchester United it would have been a welcome relief to Gunners’ fans to see Cazorla in such majestic form.
The 27-year-old’s career has taken a winding and unusual route to the top and as such has often been underrated by those from outside the hardcore followers of Spanish football. However, now with one of England’s top clubs set to flow to the beat of his drum he will surely be appreciated and on the evidence of tonight and the weekend’s 4-0 win over Cologne for his new employers, he is ready for the challenge.
On a final and somewhat tangential note though was another pointless cameo appearance as a substitute for Iker Casilas. The Real Madrid captain came on to replace Pepe Reina for the final 20 minutes and barely had as much as a back-pass to deal with. The same situation happened in the 4-1 friendly win over South Korea just prior to the Euros and when asked about the reason for the change then Vicente del Bosque highlighted Iker’s ‘fanstastic numbers’. Those numbers are of course his record 138 caps and the fact that he has won more games and kept more clean sheets at international level than any other Spaniard.
However, does a man that has guided his country to three consecutive major titles really need his legacy boosted by 20-minute run-outs in meaningless friendlies? Probably not, but then when that’s all there is to complain about you know things could be a whole lot worse.