As David Silva clinically struck home his second and Spain's 10th of the night, the look on his face wasn't of a player who thought he'd done enough to win his place back in a side he was left out of when La Roja kicked off their Confederations Cup against Uruguay.
The Manchester City man was one of 10 changes made by Vicente del Bosque – Sergio Ramos, the only man to start both matches so far, departed at half-time – as the Coach exercised his right to rotate his vastly talented squad. Among those brought in were Fernando Torres, who struck four times and missed a penalty, David Villa, who helped himself to a hat-trick, and Chelsea's Juan Mata, who scored the other goal.
“We have fulfilled an important goal, which was to win, avoid injuries and to have fun,” said Mata after the match. “We have played with nobility and humility,” added Jesus Navas, while Torres spoke of the ‘respect that [Tahiti] deserve’.
All of their comments are fair, accurate and right, yet there was a feeling, even before the game, that the situation would be lose-lose for those selected – win big, and they’ve done their job, win small and they were rubbish. And, for a 30-minute period in the first half when the score remained 1-0, Del Bosque, who admittedly never looks particularly happy, struggled to break a smile in the Maracana dugout.
After the rout he reflected: “We have played with a good form, intensity and we've been professional.” But that was far from the story his face displayed on the few occasions the camera panned across to him – particularly in those first 45 minutes. He'd have been frustrated to see Torres fail, multiple times, to play a simple square pass for Villa to score, and by the surprising misgivings of Santi Cazorla and Juan Mata several times.
“The game allowed us to give minutes to all the players,” continued the 62-year-old, finishing that ‘on Sunday it will be others’ that play against Nigeria. By others, he likely means a return to the 11 that were so impressive against Uruguay and, if not, then definitely a return to something resembling that side when they take to the field in the semi-final – presuming an astonishing chain of events doesn't see them tumble out at the group stages.
For those granted the chance to start, they'll have proved little. They won't have impressed Del Bosque in ways which he hasn't been impressed before, nor are they likely to have forced their way into his plans on the back of several goals or assists against Tahiti – they merely stretched their legs, and will, admittedly, be better for it should they be needed if injuries, suspensions or a need for rotation set in.
Records may have been broken by Spain – most goals ever scored at the Maracana and most goals scored in the final phase of a FIFA tournament – but the over-lasting impression was made by Tahiti, who received a rapturous reception at the end. As for La Roja, they'll hope to pick up from the Uruguay game against the Super Eagles in Fortaleza on Sunday night.