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Spain still not satisfied

June 21, 2010
Schaerlaeckens By Leander Schaerlaeckens

JOHANNESBURG -- What a difference a week makes.

Or does it?

Unlike last Wednesday when Spain lost to Switzerland, David Villa & Co. won on Monday. But perhaps that's really all that has changed for the Spanish. For the team is the first to admit that it hasn't made much progress from its stunning 1-0 loss in its opening game.

Spain walked all over Honduras on Monday and never looked in danger of dropping any of the three points it so badly needed. But Honduras was so weak that Spain's win has to be put in perspective.

"It hasn't been a great match against Honduras," said Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque in his postgame news conference. "We had glorious opportunities, many opportunities to score more goals. I'm not all that satisfied."

Indeed, a goal tally nearing double-digits wouldn't have been out of the question, considering the number of quality chances Spain created for itself. Against Switzerland, chances didn't equal goals either, but Spain was up against a far sturdier defense.

"The other day against Switzerland we played very well but as today we also lacked the finishing touch," Del Bosque conceded.

Chief culprit of those missing chances was Fernando Torres. While making his first start at this World Cup, the Liverpool striker squandered a handful of promising chances, missing even when he was one-on-one with the keeper.

What's more, Spain's defense lacked much of the organizational savvy it had displayed against Switzerland. "We conceded very few opportunities to Switzerland and managed very well," Del Bosque said. "Today was different. We were more vulnerable today."

Honduras, by its own admission, didn't have much of a chance in this game. "We lacked conviction in our play to try to offset and overcome this rival," said coach Reinaldo Rueda. "This opponent, they're masters on the pitch. There's nothing special to explain [the loss], we just lost to a masterful side."

But Spain has yet to capture the mastery that made it European champion two years ago. How can La Furia Roja turn things around?

It will have to shore up its buildup play, which was often sloppy in spite of being largely uncontested. Better organization of the back line is a must, too. "We played very, very long as opposed to [against] Switzerland when we had greater harmony and played more openly," Del Bosque said.

"Our defeat against Switzerland is water under the bridge," said David Villa, scorer of both of Spain's goals. "It's not logical to look back."

But look back they must, because Spain should still be concerned about its current form. It's not pleasant to point out (for Honduras fans, anyway) but Spain beat arguably the weakest team in the tournament on Monday. Next up is a much more aggressive and dynamic team in Chile on Friday. Only then will we see if Spain is still among the strongest teams.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer writer for He can be reached at