Related News

Home » Sports » Soccer

Spain looks to extend record

FOR Spain, it always was a given that the team would reach the semifinals of the Confederations Cup. For the United States, it turned out to be an unexpected gift.

The two will meet today in Bloemfontein, South Africa, for a place in the final of the biggest international tournament of the year. Top-ranked Spain, on a roll and playing with consummate confidence, will be the overwhelming favorite against an American team that barely scraped through the group phase.

Yet, Spain midfielder Pablo Hernandez said the US could still spring another surprise.

"It would be a lack of respect to start thinking about the final now," Hernandez said. "You have to respect the United States."

These Americans already escaped elimination after losing to both Brazil and world champion Italy. A pair of wild matches to finish Group B on Sunday saw the US move from last to second in a tough group of the eight-team tournament. The result hung in the balance up to the final seconds of the team's 3-0 win over Egypt and Italy's 0-3 loss to Brazil.

Now, the Americans want to ride their luck right into the final. But Spain rarely gives luck a chance.

The European champions are on a unique roll, having already set a record 15-match winning streak. They can add a record 36-match unbeaten streak if they beat the US, pushing beyond the old mark held by Brazil from 1993-96.

Winning streak

"It's time for them to lose one," said US midfielder Sacha Klejstan, who got a red card against Brazil. "So hopefully, we're the team to put an end to their winning streak."

So far, Spain beat New Zealand 5-0, Iraq 1-0 and South Africa 2-0 for a perfect record in Group A and an impressive goal tally.

The US lost to both Italy and Brazil, but has some excuses. In both games it had a man sent off, and paid dearly. A full squad made a huge improvement against Egypt to clinch the unlikely semifinal spot. Brazil plays host South Africa in the other semifinal tomorrow.

Spain has no intention of letting up, seeking a second major trophy after winning last year's European Championship.

Even though Andres Iniesta is out injured, its midfield is still awesome with Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas setting up strikers Fernando Torres and David Villa.

If not through skill, Klejstan is convinced sheer force can do the trick for the US. "I think we can match them physically. Do some things with the ball in attack."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend