Rapid Reax: Spain's 10-0 trouncing of Tahiti

Posted by Gabriele Marcotti

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL -- There was no good way for Spain to do this, so they did it the best possible way. You knew it would be a blowout against Tahiti; it was just a question of how much and, crucially, how it would come about.

Vicente Del Bosque made 10 changes and still put out a team that would probably be a co-favorite to win the Confederations Cup. The big question was, “To tiki-taka or not to tiki-taka?"

For Spain to stay true to themselves, they would have gone heavy on the possession and the intricate passing patterns. They didn't. Instead, they opted to be more direct, as evidenced by their possession percentage of "only" (by their standards) 67 percent. Being more direct against a team like Tahiti meant scoring more goals -- a whopping 10 in the end, to Tahiti's 0 -- but it also meant less potential for humiliation than their usual “piggy-in-the-middle” style of play.

I doubt Del Bosque or anyone else learned much about the Spanish squad Thursday given the nature of the game. It wasn't even particularly entertaining. But, heck, they had a job to do, and they did it.

Does the Confed Cup format need changing?
Nine players on the Tahiti squad are unemployed. Maybe several of them could get a job in PR if the reception that Eddy Etaeta's crew have been enjoying in Brazil is anything to go by.

Most of the crowd at the Maracana was Brazilian, as you would expect, although for the day, the fans became honorary islanders. This meant greeting every successful Tahitian pass with an ovation, every save from Mikael Roche with rapturous applause and -- yep, the flip side -- every Spanish goal or shot with energetic boos.

The purist in me found it all terribly patronizing -- a bit like the lap of honor to thank the fans that Marama Vahirua and teammates went on at the final whistle.

But then I figured that maybe it was right to let Tahiti enjoy this. Maybe this group of players will now have the kind of story they can tell their grandchildren and this will become part of Tahitian lore. So perhaps it's time to stop being so curmudgeonly.

This speaks to the very heart of what the Confederations Cup is, or is supposed to be. Pound for pound, despite the presence of Tahiti, the average level is probably higher than the World Cup. But, above all, it's supposed to be a competition representing all the FIFA confederations. And, yes, that includes Oceania.

The reality is that unless New Zealand qualify (and, let's face it, the all-whites are nothing to write home about, but at least they keep games close, as they showed in South Africa in 2010), there will be one very bad Oceania team in this tournament.

So we either restrict it to the top eight teams in the world -- hey, bet the TV companies would love it -- or we just accept the fact that situations like this will occur. And learn to appreciate that this is basically a gigantic PR-fest for Tahiti.

Sympathy for Torres
Odds are nobody has scored four goals in an official competition and been greeted with the kind of scorn Fernando Torres faced when his face popped up on the Maracana megatron announcing he was named man of the match.

The hail of boos was impressive and, frankly, unjustified. Torres might not have lived up to his huge price tag; he may not be the player he was; he might be selfish and unpleasant at times. But on Thursday he was simply a player doing his job and trying to impress his coach.

Torres doesn't get much sympathy from anyone these days. Some of it is his fault and some of it is circumstance, but some of it is just mean-spirited.

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