Madrid - Spain boss Vicente del Bosque tends to be the
calmest and most loyal of coaches when faced with a crisis, but even his
patience has worn thin after the European champions laboured to a 1-0 win over
Macedonia on Tuesday.
An uninspiring three points moved Del Bosque's men ever
closer to sealing their place at the European Championships in France next
year, where they will aim to win the tournament for a record third consecutive
Yet, far from champions, Spain barely even look like
contenders as the hangover from their disastrous showing as holders at the 2014
World Cup threatens to roll over into another major international tournament.
"We honestly have to recognise that we didn't play
well, " said Del Bosque after a comical own goal from Macedonian
goalkeeper Tome Pacovski handed his side victory.
"We have won by chance and the explanation isn't easy.
"After the goal, we were static, slow, on our heels and
Also read: Del Bosque upbeat despite year to forget for Spain
However, the performance in Skopje wasn't a one-off. After
the positive vibes of La Roja getting back to somewhere near their best in
Friday's 2-0 win over Slovakia, it was another step in the wrong direction as
Spain's struggle to score goals against the lesser lights of international
In five games in 2015, Spain have managed just six goals,
including Pacovski's gift and another one from the penalty spot.
The lack of goals has seen the focus turned once more on
Chelsea striker Diego Costa's suitability to Spain's 'tiki-taka' short-passing
Since turning his back on Brazil to play for his adopted
country in 2013, Costa has scored just once in nine games with his solitary
effort coming against minnows Luxembourg last October.
The 26-year-old will also miss the chance to get his
international career going when Luxembourg visit Logrono next month as he is
suspended after seeing his third yellow card of the campaign against Macedonia.
"When I start to score, Spain will score more
goals," said a defiant Costa.
Yet, many question whether Del Bosque will show the same
loyalty to him as he has to the heroes of the three consecutive major
tournament wins between 2008 and 2012.
Critics of the former Real Madrid boss believe he has been
too slow to make changes since the calamitous showing in Brazil 15 months ago.
Indeed, 10 of the 11 that started against Slovakia on Friday
also played in the 5-1 mauling suffered at the hands of the Netherlands in
With just two points from their two remaining qualifiers at
home to Luxembourg and away to Ukraine needed to mathematically seal their
place in the finals, there is little fear that Spain won't be in France next
And Del Bosque will still have a pool of talent only
rivalled by world champions Germany at his disposal come the finals.
Yet, given an underwhelming qualifying campaign has also
been interspersed with friendly defeats to France, Germany and the Netherlands,
there has been little evidence to suggest that Spain will reign once more come
Paris on July 10.For
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