After the England game, last night I caught the Costa Rica-Spain friendly via the very helpful Royal Spanish Football Federation website which provided an excellent live stream.
Watching principally to see how Bryan Ruiz got on, I was amazed at how Costa Rica were able to keep the ball and fashion chances against the Spanish, who looked very suspect defensively. Vicente del Bosque has got a bit of a hammering in the Spanish press this morning – they evidently take friendlies far more seriously then he does – although it’s far too early to talk down a side of Spain’s quality. They certainly weren’t helped by a horrid ricket from Iker Casillas, who miscontrolled a backpass, allowing Randal Brenes to fire the hosts into a surprise lead.
Ruiz, who most now be surely pressing for a starting place after a couple of impressive cameos of late for Fulham, played as a second striker just behind Joel Campbell. Captaining the side, he was full of clever runs and passes, even if the pace of the game was far more sedate than what he has come to expect in England. He made the second goal for Arsenal striker Joel Campbell, with a nice square pass, which Campbell bent round the goalkeeper from 25 yards. He then belted an advertising hoarding for good measure.
Spain had lost all eight of their previous friendlies since winning the World Cup in South Africa but rallied late on as del Bosque threw on his trusted lieutenants. Manchester City’s David Silva halved the arrears with eight minutes left and David Villa, who had spurned a succession of second half chances, broke the hosts’ hearts at the death when he headed in a free-kick from Santi Cazorla.
Judging by his Twitter feed, Ruiz was greatly encouraged by his evening’s work – both his own performance and Costa Rica’s. The travelling might lessen his chances of starting at Sunderland on Saturday but if he can reprise this kind of quality he’ll be knocking on the door in no time. You can view highlights of the game here: