Spain pack their bucket and spade for a trip to...a potato field

“Potato field” is the en vogue phrase in Spain this week, along with the usual vulgarities about one’s mother and an unmentionable act involving a bowel release and a glass of milk that pepper day-to-day life.

The agricultural theme relates to the pitch poor old Spain are being forced to play on in Kaunas in the World Cup winner’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Lithuania. La Furia Roja - a bit less furia these days since they won everything - are looking to make it five wins from five in their qualifying group with a victory boost in the Baltics.

Unfortunately though, their plans could be thwarted by a pitch that is fundamentally an ankle-snapping, hole-filled sand pit with a few blades of grass clinging on desperately like strands of hair to Pep Guardiola’s head.

Having trained in the stadium on Monday, the Spanish squad were able to confirm the accuracy of images that had been playing on the TV sports news over the weekend showing the pitch for Tuesday’s clash was far from ideal, with Alvaro Arbeloa tweeting that his kit was ready for the game and posting a picture of a bucket and spade.

Despite a campaign in the Spanish press calling for the game to be postponed, the match referee after an inspection decided that the pitch was good enough to hold the qualifier. “UEFA are not bothered as their nice hotel is a sea of luxury,” grumbled Alfredo Relaño, editor of AS.

Del Bosque denied his prize-winning potato crop were genetically modified

Vicente Del Bosque who tends to avoid controversy where possible even noted that the pitch was horrendous. “It’s not good for them nor for us,” and hinted that the usual fancy-pants passing style of Spain might be abandoned for the evening in favour of something more....English. But with accuracy. “If at one moment, we can’t play it short, we’ll play a long ball. We have the footballers for that as well,” said the Spain boss.

This is why Fernando Llorente is widely expected to start the Lithuania game supported in a front three by Santi Cazorla and David Villa. Other predicted big changes are Javi Martínez standing in for Sergio Busquets and his Athletic Bilbao team-mate Andoni Iraola taking the right-back berth.

Strangely there hasn’t been a whole lot of fretting and fussing in the Spanish press about squad-rotation and overworking the poor footballing lambs like there is in England - partly because the Spanish press don't have the same spiteful, personal vendetta against Del Bosque as their English counterparts seem to have towards Fabio Capello - but also because, technically-speaking, all the Spain-based players are about to enjoy a free weekend anyway.

With just four days till round 30 of la Primera, there is still uncertainty over whether the League’s ‘postponement’ of this weekend’s round will take place, as six clubs have gone to court to claim that what they see as a strike is quite illegal and will cause carnage and chaos to the end of the season run-in. Not to mention give Villarreal just two days to prepare for a clash against Barcelona because of Europa League commitments next Thursday.

The judge making the decision heard both cases on Tuesday and will announce his verdict on Wednesday morning after a hefty lunch and a siesta or four.

LLL feels that if this week’s matches do eventually take place - and this blog predicts that they will - then the fans of those teams who supported the strike should boycott the clashes.

After all, if their clubs were happy to show such contempt for their wishes and needs, then the only polite thing to do is  to return the favour and help increase Spanish football’s debt just that little bit more by voting with their wallets.

Topics