After France dismally lost to Mexico, I was crossing everything from fingers to toes in hope that Spain do better. They'd lost their previous match against Switzerland, and had been among the biggest shock generators of the tournament. But this WC has been a shocker of sorts, with the big teams barely managing to pull through in the group stage. Spain had every body's hopes in the clouds. They had an impressive line-up of players and had been coveted as La Furia Roja (The Red Fury.) Will the Spanish make a furious comeback in this game? We'll have to wait and watch.
Espana vs Honduras. "What are your predictions?", asked a very dear friend, hoping I'd assure him that Spain will most definitely have the upper hand in this one. "I've stopped predicting.", I replied. "Come on, they're playing Honduras! AND they have Torres!", he retorted. Well, those were my thoughts, exactly, when they played Switzerland. But I was left to wallow in depression after their defeat. But wait... their line-up and field placement looked more hopeful this time! And Torres was starting! My hopes rose as I watched them kick-off to what seemed like an exciting game. Ellis Park was packed to the hilt for this game, and the crowd welcomed the teams onto the field with a cacophony of noise, only heightened by the sizable vuvuzela orchestra in attendance.
Spain dominated possession and territory straight away with Jesus Navas, Sergio Ramos and David Villa teaming up to produce stunning strikes. Honduras had a great chance at goal when Wilson Palacios almost converted a clean cross from Walter Martinez, saved clumsily by Iker Casillas. But it was Villa who came through for Spain in the 17' to score a magnificent goal! Villa was top notch out on that left flank for Spain, and did brilliantly to beat four Honduras defenders on a determined run in from the touchline before curling a shot into the top corner, through the fingertips of the goalkeeper. What a fitting way for Spain to open their World Cup account! The dangerous combination of Martinez and Suazo almost caught Spain asleep, and with just a one-goal cushion, Spain needed to arm themselves against a sucker punch from Honduras at this point. Post the half-time slot, Honduras hit back aggressively in hopes of scoring an equalizer. This seemed to awaken Spain who assertively progressed in the form of Villa again to score their second goal! With help from Xavi & Navas on the half-line, Villa's shot on target deflected off Chavez and soared right in! At this point, it was almost game-over for Honduras.
The main reasons to attribute this success over their last game, was merely a change in placement. Torres had been brought in, instead of the injured Iniesta. And this resulted in such a drastic difference for the Spanish team, who now proved to be more attacking. Ramos had some wonderful shots at goal, which didn't quite yield. Torres put in some praiseworthy effort as well, but his injuries got better of him and he was substituted by Mata. Cesc Fabregas, celebrated Arsenal midfielder who is rumored to move to home club Barcelona, made his presence known immediately taking a two move shot when he came on for Xavi in the 66'.
On the whole, Spain's effort seemed to improved on a grand scale. Two goals, although not very convincing for such a regarded team, may just give them a chit into the next round. They'd have to become more clinical if they progress to the later stages. For now though, the Spanish bull seems to have regained its fortitude.