Spanish FA go 'kerching, kerching, kerching, bank' as La Roja held by Costa Rica

It was a result that left Costa Rica supporters reasonably content, England fans a little less confident than a few days ago, and the Spain posse feeling more than a little peeved.

Fans of the World and European champions were forced to put up with another lacklustre performance from their finest players, as well as constant interruptions in the TV feed, before Vicente del Bosque’s side made a late dash for a 2-2 draw after going two goals behind in Tuesday’s friendly clash.

The match followed the pattern of Saturday’s match against England for Spain. A pee-poor, lazy-bummed first-half performance and an attempted revival in the second to rectify a few wrongs. But while Spain were unable to undo the damage against England at Wembley, late goals from David Silva and David Villa made the jaunt to Costa Rica merely a minor disaster rather than an all-out catastrophe.

On a financial level, the friendly match - which had no benefit whatsoever to Spain’s Euro 2012 preparations - added a reported €2 million to the FA’s coffers, with the president Angel Villar looking more than a little pleased with himself before kick-off. “[The friendlies] are of no use to anyone except Uncle Angel who does ‘kerching, kerching, kerching, bank,” fumed José Vicente Hernáez in Marca.

The match continued the poorly-held secret that the Spanish players are sick to the back teeth of their post-World Cup world tour that has seen matches in Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Italy, the USA, England and Costa Rica.

Tuesday’s friendly in San José was probably the lowest point of their Harlem Globetrotters style tour - a game against a team ranked 62nd in the world, played in awful weather on a divot-strewn pitch just perfect for breaking an unsuspecting ankle or two. The uncharacteristically dangerous Xabi Alonso back pass and lame attempt to dribble the ball out of his box from Iker Casillas that both lead to the first Costa Rica goal were proof positive of how little Spain cared about this particular encounter.

“These cursed friendlies,” begins Wednesday’s column from Mad Tomás Roncero in AS. “I hope that Villar doesn’t have another chance to arrange a friendly at the other end of the mapa mundi for purely tax-collecting reasons. A couple of million does not justify endangering the prestige that was earned quite rightly in Vienna and Johannesburg.”

But despite the acknowledgment that friendlies simply aren’t any motivation for the Spanish players these days, there is still some criticism of the footballers, with Marca’s front page warning the Spanish manager “Vicente, we have problem.”

“The draw against Costa Rica should serve as a warning sign,” writes the paper’s editorial. “World Champions cannot offer the image that Spain did in the first half against a weak Central-American side.” However, there were kinder words at the end of Marca’s musings. “The team’s credit is in tact as is the confidence and support of the fans. Spain are still a good bet for the Euro 2012, but Tuesday cannot be repeated.” 

However, this kind of criticism has been leveled at the Spanish side ever since winning the European Championships in 2008. The reply of the team was to win the World Cup two years later and qualify quite comfortably for next summer’s competition.

These friendlies for Spain have been arranged for the country’s FA to have a fine jolly, pick up big pay-cheques and make political friends in FIFA - nothing more, nothing less. So any criticism of the side would appear to be unjustified grumbling, rather than anything positive.

As Juan Mata said after the latest defeat, “this team won the European Championships, then the World Cup. It deserves some credit.”

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