Spain's players celebrate a goal during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Georgia at Boris Paichadze Stadium in Tbilisi September 11, 2012.
(Photo : REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili (GEORGIA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
Spain started the defense of their 2010 World Cup on Tuesday with a 1-0 victory over Georgia.
However, the victory was far from the effort one expected from the defending champs who recently made history with a victory at the 2012 Euro Cup. That championship made them the first team to ever win three straight major tournaments.
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Coach Vicente del Bosque decided to go with a lineup that was largely reminiscent of the Euro Cup champions which included Iker Casillas, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, David Silva, and Roberto Soldado. Soldado was the only player in the starting lineup that did not play in the Euro Cup, but he proved to be the difference in this match.
The game played out in the same manner as more recent matches featuring Spain have. Georgia parked their entire squad behind the ball and awaited a counter attack against Spain. In the process, they shut down Spain and cut down on their chances and frustrated them time and again. Spain eventually found a way with the time winding down.
The match reasserts two things. Opposing squads seem to think that the best way to beat Spain is to sit back and wait for the counterattack. However, the match also proved that this may not be enough to beat the Spanish who almost seemed destined to find the game winner, no matter how late or unconvincing their performance.
Soldado scored a goal in the 86th minute off a pass from substitute Cesc Fabregas. The goal relieved a Spanish side who was just six minutes from an embarrassing draw against an opponent they were expected to destroy by more than two or three goals.
Next up, Spain takes on a Belarusian side who lost to Georgia and France in its first two matches.