Spain obliterates Costa Rica with ruthless seven-goal show
Spain demolished Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday in a World Cup win as comprehensive as you’ll see in games played between adults in the same stratosphere of men’s soccer.
Ferran Torres scored twice to join Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio, Carlos Soler, Gavi, and Alvaro Morata on the score sheet as Spain held a cartoonish 82 percent of the ball that at times was as high as 87.
Spain held Costa Rica without a shot attempt and completed almost 800 more passes than its CONCACAF opponents at Al Thumana Stadium.
It wasn’t until Morata’a stoppage-time goal that a Spain scorer wasn’t also a member of their (mostly) U-23 roster from the 2020 Olympics.
Gavi, at 18 years and 110 days, is the youngest player to score at a World Cup since Pele did it at 17 years and 249 days.
Spain shows hints of new golden age with comprehensive smackdown
Costa Rica barely touched the ball, didn’t attempt a shot, kept 16 percent of the ball, and registered a 0.00 expected goals for the game.
We knew this could be mad given Los Ticos mix of greying or greyed veterans and inexperienced youth, but this? This was a smackdown.
And it’s difficult not to dream of what Luis Enrique may be building inside of a nation that clobbered the world for the better part of a half-decade earlier this century.
Six of Spain’s starters and all of their goal scorers won silver at the 2020 Olympics, falling to Brazil, and the team’s only loss of 2022 saw it hold 74 percent of the ball in a 2-1 loss to a very good Switzerland side in the Nations League.
Spain has a right to dream right now, especially after Japan took down Germany in the opener.
From the possession to the danger to the gaudy goal differential after one match, it’s very difficult to make as bold a visual claim as Spain made to start this tournament.
Enrique left -- ready for this? -- Thiago Alcantara, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Sergio Ramos, Mikel Oyarzabal, Inigo Martinez, and Sergi Roberto at home.
Stars of the Show
Dani Olmo goal video
Ferran Torres goal videos
Marco Asensio goal video
How to watch Spain vs Costa Rica live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 11am ET, Wednesday, Nov. 23
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)
Key storylines, players to watch closely
Spain has a lot of familiar faces anxious to etch their names on the country’s celebrated World Cup history. The Barcelona-heavy roster has as many members of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City as Real Madrid, leading to criticism from other parts of the country. The biggest question comes at forward, where Alvaro Morata (30) and Pablo Sarabia (30) are two of eight players over the age of 26.
Costa Rica’s biggest argument for success comes from one of CONCACAF’s best, perhaps the best, ever goalkeepers in Keylor Navas. Ten outfield players have more than 50 caps, but Costa Rica will need a youngster to make its name if it wants a point or more out of the group. Can that be Sunderland teenager Jewison Bennette?
Spain quick facts
Current FIFA world ranking: 7
World Cup titles: 1 (2010)
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Luis Enrique
Key players: Rodri, Pedri, Pau Torres, Jordi Alba
Costa Rica quick facts
Current FIFA world ranking: 31
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified from CONCACAF via interconfederation playoffs
Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez
Key players: Keylor Navas, Joel Campbell, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz