Liechtenstein 0 - Spain 2
Zech; Telser, Ospelt, Mikael Stocklasa, Gigon; Thomas Beck (Nigg 89'), Martin
Stocklasa, Gersten; Mattias Beck (Burgmeir 68'), Ronald Buchel (Marco Buchel
Spain: played 8
games, 20 points
Report from our (lost) international correspondents Borja Pantzov and Goran Arsic.
Well here we are at last with our match report. Sorry it has taken so long, but we got lost. Well Liechtenstein is such a small place on the map, only a dot really on my Letts schoolboy world atlas diary (1960 edition), and to top it all Goran has it the wrong way up. We are halfway to Reykjavik before we realise. So finally we arrive in Vaduz only a few hours before the match and on to the Rheinpark for the match. This one should be a formality, with our opponents ranked number 159 in the world. Just how many countries are there? Must be somewhere between the Marshall Islands and Bhutan in the ranking I suppose.
José Antonio Camacho uses the occasion to give everyone in the squad a game, with the physiotherapist in goal and the bus driver at centre forward. Seriously though, Valencia's Albelda comes in for his first cap, and Zaragoza's José Ignacio is due to come on at half time. Hierro sets a new record number of caps for an outfielder with his 82nd appearance, one more than his manager Camacho, and Xavi and Vicente have gone off to play for the under 21 side against France. Actually that is a more important match, kicking off a quarter of an hour after this one, and we keep one ear to the radio. Funny that we are not playing Liechtenstein under 21 side, maybe they don't have anyone under 21 years old in this country.
Spain start cautiously, with Liechtenstein packing their defence with players. Before long we find a way through though, with Raúl timing his jump perfectly to score from Mendieta's free kick. It is his 22nd goal for Spain, and he moves up level with Julio Salinas as the country's fourth top goal scorer. Only Di Stefano (23), Butragueño (26) and Hierro (27) are now ahead of him. But then it stops, and our hosts could even score themselves, with the Beck brothers Mattias and Tomas both having a go.
As the second half progresses it is more of the same, and the few Spanish fans are getting impatient. Could be that the players' minds are on other things, like opening bank accounts and setting up trusts here rather than playing football. Let's face it, it is a good opportunity. Goran actually tried to open an account this morning, but they were apparently rather snooty about it. Didn't want to accept his depositing his lifelong savings of 5,326 Pesetas in one and five Peseta coins, and telling him that if he didn't have a hundred thousand Dollars for starters he could b*gger off. Well really! And he had to break his piggy bank to get the cash out!
Finally though we get the goal we need to restore some pride, Mendieta once again the provider for Nadal. But it is a disappointing performance with José Ignacio the only shining light, and the only consolation is that we qualify mathematically for the finals. We now have four friendly games to build up to it, and we can start thinking about what is happening in the league and other club competitions in the meantime. And so back to Spain, with Goran again in charge of travel arrangements. But doesn't that road sign say Vladivostok?