Games aren’t decided by possession, but the numbers help paint a picture. At halftime, Spain was not only up 2-0 on Uruguay today at the Confederations Cup, they’d held over 80 percent of the possession. It was a completely mismatch.
It’s a reminder that, for all the misgivings we been collecting about Spain’s world soccer dominance, Vicente del Bosque’s team are still well-situated on their pedestal. Granted, Uruguay hasn’t been that great since claiming Copa America two years ago, but the extent to which Spain outplayed one of the world’s more talented teams was astounding. And they did so half-a-world away from home.
Pedro got a little help from defender Diego Lugano to put Spain up 1-0 in the 20th minute, while Roberto Soldado, perhaps given his chance to finally win a starting spot, doubled Spain’s lead 32 minutes later.
From there, it was typical Spain. They finished with 75 percent of the match’s possession and out-shot their opponents 17-4. Only one of Uruguay’s shots came from open play.
Sergio Busquets completed 118 passes. Andres Iniesta? 114. Xavi Hernández added 111. Overall, Spain attempted 938 passes to Uruguay’s 311.
Thanks to Luis Suárez’s 88th minute free kick, the score looks closer than the game played. This wasn’t a 2-1 game.
As this Spanish core ages and we think of more reasons why the reigning champions might not be favored next year in Brazil (just like we tried to talk ourselves into Germany’s potential last summer), it’s worth noting the few times La Roja have been outplayed over this record-setting run. They have lost to Switzerland and the United States on the global stage (and let’s go ahead and throw the two Euros in here, also), but those were counterattacking one-offs. With the possible exception of Portugal in the Euro 2012 semifinals (who, like Italy in Euro 2008, took Spain to kicks), who has outplayed Spain when it really mattered?
The flip side: At any point, Spain’s capable of putting together a performance like today’s. They did it in last year’s Euro final. They did it in the semis in South Africa.
Even though we, probably out of boredom, keep contriving more reasons why Spain’s vulnerable. But are they really that vulnerable?