Friday's friendly match between the Spanish National Football team and its opposite from Bolivia, at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, in Sevilla, ended 2-0 in favor of Spain.
The World Cup tune up was an opportunity for Spain's coach, Vicente del Bosque, to see how his team is shedding the recently concluded La Liga and Champions League seasons, and begins the arduous road to rekindling their competitive fire and sustaining that extra stamina needed to complete the five week tournament still ahead in Brazil.
Resting a number of players who will probably be starters and using a long series of substitutions and tactical schemes, del Bosque started out with Reina; Azpilicueta, Pique, Martinez, Moreno; Iturraspe, Xavi; Cazorla, Mata, Pedro; and Torres and slowly substituted most over the course of the game. Bolivia countered with Quinonez; Raldes, Gutierrez, Eguino, Marvin; Bejarano, Melean, Mojica, Chumacero; Arce, and Martins. Pretty close to the team the contested for qualification from CONMEBOL.
The noteworthy aspects of what soon turned into a training exercise were the Red Fury's possession and fluidity on attack, their still brittle defense, particularly in the absence of Casillas, Ramos, Pique, and Alba, and their masterly midfield.
Star turn after star turn from Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva, Xavi, and Busquets underlined why this team is a champion and a true contender to lift the FIFA trophy at the end of the World Cup 2014 competition. The game's result was never in doubt, not so much because the opposition was weak, which it was, but because still in first gear, and obviously with several tired legs, the Spaniards were a sight to behold.
They controlled the game with a steady tiki-taka that changed gears into a swift vertical thrust into their opponent's box with any number of opportunities created. Chances at the 32st for Azpilicueta and at the 45th for Torres should have opened the score but it was not until the second half that we saw the first goal. Brilliant saves from Quinonez kept the teams at 0-0 for what seemed an absurdly long time given the offensive output the Spaniards crafted.
The eventual opening score, a penalty by Torres, was the product of the umpteenth foray into the Bolivian box and a push on the back that the linesman, not the ref, called. Torres stroked the ball down the middle of the goal, fooling the goalkeeper and putting the hosts ahead at the 51st minute.
The goal seemed to spur the Spaniards on instead of the Bolivians and more opportunities came the red-shirted team's way. But it would take another brilliant Iniesta foray from his side of the pitch into the opposition's to add to the score line.
The Barcelona star glided rather than ran down the heart of the Bolivian defense until the opening he had spotted when he started his run became too tempting not to exploit. The shot from outside the box, kissed the far right post of the goal on the way in and for once Quinonez had nothing to do but look behind him as the ball nestled in the nets.
The 2-0 score seemed meager and could easily have been larger but del Bosque was intent on simply oiling the gears while resting a number of key players who nevertheless were up to training prior to the match. Ironically, this is precisely what he will be attempting to do all World Cup long with a team counting many members who had to play late into this month and several stars who are into their thirties and whose playing minutes will have to be counted carefully.
At the post-game press conference del Bosque said: "We are pleased with our results. We are trying to allow our Champions League participants a chance to heal from their bumps while keeping those whose seasons ended earlier in rhythm."
From this performance, it would seem his roster, made up mostly of players who are well known to one another, is working well together. It would be interesting to see them turn their machine into a higher gear ahead of their opening match against the Dutch in June, if only to confirm what at this point seems obvious--Spain, with a well managed rotation, is ready to defend their title.