In what must surely rank as the performance of the tournament to date, Spain - after stuttering a little in their opening against Italy - hit top form with a ruthless defeat of Ireland.
Spain made one change from the opening game - an important one at that - with Fernando Torres replacing Cesc Fabregas to enable them to line up with a more conventional looking attack. The move paid off just minutes into the game when Torres put the Spaniards ahead.
In total, Spain out-chanced Ireland 23-5 (ahead 13-3 at the half) - a high for the tournament so far. Whilst Ireland defending manfully at times (racking up defensive scores) the number of mistakes was telling and contributed greatly to the scale of the loss.
The numbers from the game are as follows (click the image to enlarge):
A few observations:
- In recording a score of 10, Xavi posted the highest numbers since I began (both with Euro 2012 and City's run in) highest individual mark. There is no doubt that Andreas Iniesta (and Xabi Alonso to be fair) pulls the strings in midfield, but Xavi's influence on scoring chance is clear.
- After a score of zero against Italy, Alfonso Arbeloa had a wonderful night. A score of seven is the highest from a defender and with these all being from the creating of scoring chances shows quite how dominant he was in an attacking sense. A lesser extent maybe, but Gerard Pique's presence in attack was also evident.
- Much-maligned after his brief appearance as a substitute against Italy, Fernando Torres got the start and his numbers justified his selection. The early goal bred confidence and he totalled eight on the index (in just 74 minutes of action).
- The constant pressure Ireland faced was evident in the numbers posted by Shay Given, Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger. With Spain's style of play, the vast majority of scoring chances are from in the box and to their credit they blocked a number of these. However, given the 23-5 dominance it is extremely unlikely that you will manage to keep your opponents at bay during the course of the ninety minutes.
- What a horrible night for Aiden McGeady. Primarily an attacking option of course, his total of -3 is also a (unwanted) high; evidence of the fact that for all Spain's impressive threat Ireland contributed largely to their downfall.