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The pressure on Spain mounts after Japan defeat
by Paul Kennedy, July 27th, 2012 1:01AM

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TAGS:  japan, olympics, spain

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[OLYMPIC SPOTLIGHT] Has Spain bitten off more than it can chew? Despite the presence of three players from its Euro 2012 team, Juan Mata, Javi Martinez and Jordi Alba, Spain fell to Japan, 1-0, in the opening game of the men's soccer competition in Glasgow. The short-handed Spaniards were lucky to escape Hampden Park by such a narrow margin as they needed several big saves from Manchester United goalie David de Gea to stay in the game.

American referee Mark Geiger didn't help the Spanish cause when he sent off Anigo Martinez in the 41st for a foul on Kensuke Nagai.

By then, Japan was ahead on a goal by Yuki Otsu off a corner kick, and it held off the short-handed Spaniards in the second half.

"With one player less, we were forced to chase the game," said Spain coach Luis Milla. "That isn't the style of the Spanish team."

This isn't the first time Spain has dug a hole for itself. It lost to Switzerland in the 2010 World Cup, then ran off six straight wins to win the title. It tied Italy in the opening game, then won its next four matches -- the semifinal against Portugal in a shootout -- to win the European Championship with a 4-0 win over Italy in the final in which Alba had the second goal.

 "We already knew about this extra pressure to win a gold medal, coming into the games," Milla said. "Everyone at the Spanish federation is delighted to have this pressure."

Spain next faces Honduras and Morocco, which played to a 2-2 draw in the other game.

 "We will treat the last two [group] games like cup finals," Milla said.



1 comment
  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: July 27, 2012 at 4:21 p.m.
    That's Íñigo, not Anigo, Martínez. Also, this is not at all the same team that played in the Euro (despite the presence of those three, of whom only Alba started on the senior team), or that went down to Switzerland in 2010. The senior team can deal with this. This is essentially the team that won the U-21 European Championship in 2011, but still has to prove itself capable of overcoming a loss like this one.

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