Spain train back on track
But Europe's champions aren't out of the woods yet
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
Spainís Sergio Ramos kicks the ball during their 2010 World Cup match against Honduras at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg on June 21, 2010. (EDDIE KEOGH/Reuters)
Johannesburg -- Spain was good enough to put itself back on track at the 2010 World Cup.
And while the Spanish were impressive in their 2-0 win over Honduras on Monday, one gets the feeling they have more to give.
Spain recovered well from their 1-0 shock defeat to Switzerland in its opening game. But while the two goals will serve them well if things get down to goal differential, Spain still continues to waste chances and not all of the Spanish magicians are in top form.
There is great relief in the Spanish camp after the win, but Spain is still in a delicate spot. They finish group play against group leader Chile, who has won both its games. Spain currently has three points, tying them with Switzerland.
While La Furia was back in the Furia Roja, Spain is not out of the woods yet.
Spain had little trouble with Honduras. It controlled the game throughout, pushing the ball around the park and getting quality chances.
Barcelona-bound David Villa scored both goals, one in each half, and was the best player on the pitch. This Spanish side has great depth and talent, but not everyone is playing up to their skill level.
"There's nothing much to explain except that we had a superior team in front of us," said Honduran coach Reinaldo Rueda.
The European champions were favoured coming into the tournament but were troubled with several key injuries. That has hampered Spain's start and players like Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres are obviously not 100 per cent.
Torres' reactions looked slow and laboured. He was on the end of several nice passes by his teammates, but they went begging.
The Spanish need Torres to get back on pace or every team that plays them from now until the tournament's end will focus on Villa ... and for good reason.
Villa produced the best goal of the tournament in the 17th minute.
He took the ball 40 yards from goal, moved into the penalty area, dragging the ball past two Honduran defenders, slipping across the top of the box, beating one more player and while he was going down, hooking a shot to the top of the net.
Just before that he had ripped a long shot off the crossbar.
He scored his second in the 51st minute and he could have had his third, but Villa missed a penalty.
A third goal would have made things a little more comfortable in terms of goal differential.
The Spanish needed a solid effort after their opening game loss.
"Our defeat to Switzerland is water under the bridge now, there is no sense in looking back," Villa said. "We still need to beat Chile later, but there is a long way to go before we can even think about being world champions, both in terms of time and matches."
For years the Spanish had battled the reputation of being a highly skilled team that never accomplished anything.
Then came their emphatic win in the 2008 European championship in Switzerland and Austria, and Spain believed that mountain had been climbed.
But there were still those who believed that the only real championship the Spanish could win that would prove they had achieved greatness is the World Cup.
The loss to Switzerland opened up those old wounds and sent a frisson of fear through the Spanish contingent.
The ease with which they dispatched Honduras settled some nervous stomachs.
"We created a lot of chances and could have won by more goals," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque. "But we were more vulnerable than we were against Switzerland.
"Honduras were quite adventurous. They came out and let us play."
A true test will come against Chile. Both sides will be looking to win so they can avoid a showdown with Brazil in the next round.
Chile has been a surprise this tournament. They haven't scored a lot of goals, but have played entertaining football.
It probably helped that Chile didn't come into this tournament facing enormous pressure.
Unlike its group partner, Spain, that faces all the pressure and must prove it has finally learned to handle it every time it takes the pitch.