Could The Curse of Atlético be to blame for Spain’s French foul-up?

Like a criminal mastermind who has grown tired of giving the hapless police the run-around and is looking to be banged to rights for once, Spain gave France enough chances in Atlético Madrid's Vicente Calderón to punish la Roja and make life a little more thrilling for Vicente Del Bosque’s men.

This desire to be caught and cuffed began over the summer in Poland and Ukraine, with performances consisting of the bare minimum effort required to beat their opponents, penalties and the refusal to field a proper striker despite having quite a few decent ones on the bench.

Two of these tactics were back in business on Tuesday night in the World Cup qualifier - Cesc Fabregas started up front and missed a penalty which could have sealed the victory. But Spain decided to make things easier still for their opponents - after all, the approach didn't do them any harm at Euro 2012, and left enough in the tank for even more long, money-spinning jaunts to Puerto Rico and the like for the Spanish FA.

Despite having a number of proper defenders available, Del Bosque opted to put Sergio Busquets in the back four, thus giving Xabi Alonso an awful lot to do. And when Alvaro Arbeloa picked up a knock, Juanfran - recently converted from Osasuna winger to Atlético fullback - was deployed, only to commit the error that eventually lead to France’s last gasp equaliser.

It was a series of self destructive moves that had you suspecting Dani Güiza and Riki would be called up for the next series of matches, just for a laugh. Even the supporters in the stadium played their part, giving the opposition extra motivation by doing a Mexican wave in the first half with the match about 50,000 miles away from being won.

Despite Vicente del Bosque’s plan working to perfection, the Spanish press are insistent that the dropped points are a very bad thing for Spain, who might end up forced into ‘doing a Portugal’ and going through the qualification play-offs in order to book their trip to Brazil. That’s certainly the fear at AS, whose headline suggests a victory in Paris when the two sides meet again in March is a must.

Marca are happy to blame the dropped points on the tactical decisions of Del Bosque and poor old Juanfran, who defended himself after the game by insisting he was “not a worse player after tonight.”

Over in the Catalan capital, Josep Maria Casanovas writing in Sport opines that “it doesn’t matter but it’s all a warning. When you don’t play with 100% motivation, when you want spectacle with the minimum of score-lines, when you apply the law of minimum effort, these things can happen.”

And so, Del Bosque will have a big grin hidden under his moustache, with the group suddenly interesting and....and....hang on one blinkin’ minute...

A series of tactical blunders, missed penalties, Juanfran, conceding last second goals. LLL has just remembered whose ground the match was being played at - which surely explains the foul-up against France.

It’s the curse of the Vicente Calderón!

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