Things are going very nicely for Spain. Extremely nicely it might be said, if it wasn't for all the bother back at the FA, with a suspended president and other problems, but on the pitch things look excellent, seven months ahead of Russia 2018. Being honest, Costa Rica are a team that still needs a fair amount of work, and this evening at La Rosaleda they were missing their three best players, but even so, they were still wiped off the map by a finely tuned Spain side.
The unbeaten Lopetegui has a following wind, and he also knows how to best use it. Iniesta and Jordi Alba appear reborn, both at Barça and with Spain, Morata is on fire, at Chelsea and with Spain, Isco is pure magic, at Real Madrid and with Spain. And the rest go along with the wave. Or ride it impressively, as Odriozola is doing. An unexpected appearance which gives the side wings.
Lopetegui's achievement has been to get all the players interested in games like this, ones with little reward and in the middle of intense domestic competition. But Spain started with those who could start in the World Cup, except for Kepa in place of De Gea. But it's always better to give a debutant their start in front of a pleasant crowd like that of La Rosaleda, who only marred the evening with their whistling of Piqué. The timid attacks, such as they were, from Costa Rica meant that in the end it wasn't much of a test for the Athletic keeper.
Isco in charge against Costa Rica
Isco ran the show, starting on the left of an initial 4-1-4-1 and gradually taking over everything: the game, the leadership, the fans, the jubilant atmosphere. Costa Rica were unable to break the spell.
But don't think the nutmegs, the spins, the dragbacks were mere adornments, playing to a delirious crowd. Not at all. Everything he did had a practical effect. "He dances with the ball" they say of the lad from Málaga. He did tonight, until a vicious challenge from Waston saw him hobble off to wild applause.
Spain score five
Spain were helped by Jordi Alba's early goal, who at his second chance finished on the left what Odriozola had started on the right. These carnivorous left and right backs destroyed Costa Rica's five man back line, who were often petrified in the face of the danger.
Disastrous errors from keeper Carvajal and his defence provoked the blood letting. Morata grabbed one, and Silva, top scorer under Lopetegui, another two. The Canary Islander plays better with Spain than anywhere else. Iniesta, in his golden years, finished things up to make it five.