thumbnail Hello,

Goal.com's Ewan Macdonald looks back at La Furia Roja's record-breaking win on Wednesday, but warns that it'll take some effort to keep it going...

Spain won their 14th consecutive game on Wednesday by defeating Iraq, but any fan of the Roja hoping for a repeat of the 5-0 victory over New Zealand was to be disappointed.

In fact only a David Villa goal - and a header, at that - separated the two sides as the Asian champions put in an obstinate but still admirable defensive showing, the performance of Salam Shakir being a highlight.

For Vicente del Bosque, though, even having his name in the record books for that winning streak will have come with dampened spirits, for there was a real lack of imagination about Spain's play at times.

No Need To Panic?

The job was done, but with difficulty. Xavi did manage a couple of excellent through balls to Fernando Torres, but the Liverpool forward - bizarrely - found himself bereft of form when he needed it most.

Meanwhile the wing play was disappointing: Joan Capdevila's input was encouraging, however neither Juan Mata nor Santi Cazorla managed to really hit the heights expected of them, with the Villarreal man being especially disappointing.

Indeed, the straight 4-4-2 of Spain failed to match up to the more mobile formation that ousted New Zealand (admittedly a much weaker side); and Iraq, packing the defence, made quick work of most tentative moves forward.

This has got to concern Del Bosque, for even though this tournament has not been one of defensive brilliance - look at Brazil's goals against tally! - the 2010 World Cup almost certainly will be, as is the style at the tournament.

What To Do?

The absence of Andres Iniesta looks more and more key as Spain progress: let's not forget that way, way back in the mists of time, it was the Barcelona man's invention that spared La Furia Roja some dreadful embarassment against Iceland.

That was game #7 of the current 34-game run without defeat, and the 1-1 draw was against a side whose defence was without flair but very high on reliability.

Certainly the fact that Spain stand on the threshold of matching Brazil's streak of 35 matches without a loss is worthy of admiration, but if they are to keep this winning streak going then Del Bosque needs to have his attacking A-game out.

Without Iniesta, then, he might consider reverting to a 4-1-4-1, Xabi Alonso manning the engine room but allowing both Cesc and Xavi the chance to dictate attacking play. Firing in crosses from the touchline, as Santi Cazorla would be charged with doing, is less of a priority against a packed box; the killer pass is far more useful.

Nonetheless, congratulations to Spain for continuing to smash records. It would be churlish to only criticise their imperfections while missing the overall point that we are seeing at the moment one of the greatest international teams of the recent past.

Ewan Macdonald, Goal.com