Spain's last two major tournaments ended before they had really begun. They did not progress past the group stages in the 2014 World Cup and Italy killed their dreams of revival in France last year during the Euros. But a great footballing nation like Spain was never going to remain dormant for long, and now, they look awake, and frighteningly good.
Last Saturday, Spain got their Euro 2016 revenge as they look to have sentenced Italy to a second placed finish in group G after an impressive 3-0 win at the Bernabéu. The Azzurri were a foot off the pace for the whole game, Spain’s collective intensity was a sight to behold and other international sides would have watched fearing the worst: Spain of 2010 may be back.
Surprisingly, six players who lifted the World Cup trophy in 2010 featured against Italy on Saturday, a full seven years later. However it was the new names that really impressed and look worthy of filling the boots of retired 2010 legends like Xavi and Puyol.
The Isco show
Benalmádena-born Isco’s performance shadowed that of anyone else on Saturday. Despite the question marks over his future last season, he has well and truly proved himself for both club and country this year. Real Madrid have put a ludicrous 700-million-euro price-tag on his head, and Spain, well they should thank their lucky stars that international transfers don’t exist.
The 25-year-old playmaker scored an excellent free-kick in the 13th minute against Italy to put Spain ahead, and smashed home his second with a low strike from outside the area before half time. It was just a matter of seeing the game home from that point.
Álvaro Morata, who was playing for Real Madrid U19’s when Iker Casillas lifted the World Cup in 2010, put the game to bed with his goal in the 77th minute. Spain’s football revolution looks to be under way.
Marco Asensio, 21, also featured against Italy. He is yet to score a senior goal for Spain, although if his club performances are anything to go by, he will be a valuable addition to the new wave of talent streaming into the national team.
Spain put eight goals past a helpless Liechtenstein on Tuesday, to win 8-0, a ridiculous scoreline, but one that you may have predicted. Five players got their name on the score sheet, with strikers Morata and Iago Aspas bagging a brace each and Isco also netting one himself.
Despite the result against Liechtenstein, we should look to their victory over Italy as an indication of Spain’s strength right now. Italy are a top team, and Spain swept them aside with few problems.
Spain are yet to secure automatic qualification for the 2018 World Cup. They need four points from their two remaining games against Albania in Alicante on 6 October and Israel in Jerusalem on 9 October. Complacency should be set aside for the last two fixtures. Spain are just a couple of strong performances away from the World Cup; with the experience in their squad, alongside the rising stars of the game, Spain could cast aside their recent woes and recreate a 2010 campaign in Russia.