Different tournament, same dominant Spain

Posted by Roger Bennett

RECIFE, BRAZIL -- Some quick thoughts after Spain's dominating 2-1 win against Uruguay in the Confederations Cup.

Shaun Botterill/FIFA/Getty ImagesPedro's volley ended up deflecting off Diego Lugano to give Spain the opening goal.

1. Far from boring
From the first minute, the huge Uruguayan supporter contingent began to whistle with derision as Spain settled into their rhythm and began to circulate the ball. Clearly unbothered, the World Cup winners avoided complacency and proved the absence of the injured Xabi Alonso was only a speed bump. Xavi played like a man hell-bent on proving rumors of his demise to be premature, completing 68 first-half passes -– the exact same number as the entire Uruguayan team. Andres Iniesta was also in the mood for a knife fight, completing 112 of 119 passes (94.1 percent completion rate) as he looked to cut through the gut of his opponents whenever he received the ball.

The Spaniards' first-half dominance was total. They savored 78 percent possession and completed 449 passes compared with Uruguay's 68. Metronomic, yes, but mesmerizing, too. Barcelona's Champions League wobble last season showed just how hard it is to play relentlessly with such focus and precision. Perhaps the only team that can compete with Spain when they are in this frame of mind may be the Spanish Under-21 side. Frightening thought for opponents: Coach Vicente Del Bosque will be able to rest his starters for the final group game against Nigeria and be fresh for the semifinals.

2. Roberto Soldado Belongs
The Valencia striker made the most of his opportunity to lead the Spanish line and may prove to be the potent focal point Spain lacked throughout the Euros. Unlike Alvaro Negredo in Ukraine, who looked like a man dancing the Macarena when everyone around him moved to a Samba beat, Soldado played as if he belonged. He held the ball up and moved well, also unveiling a propensity to dive as a master of the dark arts. In the 30th minute when Cesc Fabregas put him through, Soldado reacted calmly, driving the ball into the top left corner -- a tidy finish that must have felt like a tiny dagger in Fernando Torres' heart.

3. Uruguay -- spoiled for choice?
The Uruguayans did not just lose the game, they were barely able to touch the ball for long periods, looking like a shadow of the team that won the Copa America back in 2011.

Coach Oscar Tabarez selected Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani ahead of Diego Forlan up front, and the coveted duo played like two men in the midst of an argument, completing just one pass to each other as a front pairing. It was only when Forlan arrived with 20 minutes to go that the team appeared to have both balance and menace. Suarez's impressive free kick made the scoreline respectable, but if the Tahitians were watching the first 70 minutes, they may fancy their chances when the two teams meet here on June 23.

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