Spain, 47 years without failing the last day thumbnail

Spain, 47 years without failing the last day

It will not be the first time, nor the last. The Selection faces another night marked by the significance of the result. At stake is participation in its sixteenth World Cup, 11 of the previous 15 in a row. La Roja has not failed on the last day since 1974, in the tiebreaker against Yugoslavia with the damn goal of Katalinski. On this occasion, Luis Enrique’s men have the repechage net that was already saving on one occasion (Germany 2006).

A walk through those decisive matches on the last day of the qualifying phases helps us remember how expensive it is to be in a World Championship. The time tunnel takes us back 47 years in time. Before, Spain had been present in four of the nine World Cup events.

Germany 1974

The Frankfurt playoff. The last disappointment happened in a luck, that of the tiebreaker game, which is no longer in force. Spain and Yugoslavia had been tied on points in their group after having tied the two direct matches and having both won against Greece, the third in contention. FIFA decided that the World Cup be held in a face-to-face match between them in the city where the World Cup would begin months later. The Waldstadion in Frankfurt was full. The chronicles of the matches speak of the presence of 17,000 Spaniards in the stands. Kubala, the coach of the moment.

Nobody better than one of the protagonists of that meeting, Juan Manuel Asensi, to chronicle what happened there. “That rainy afternoon is one of those that professionals want to erase from our memory, like all bad memories. It was a huge disappointment. I had already lived the experience of staying out of the 1970 World Cup, four years before. Belgium eliminated us and that was the second. Luckily I had a third chance and also against Yugoslavia we got into the World Cup in Argentina 78”.

The former from Elche and Barcelona, ​​is relatively clear about the main reason for that defeat. “We put ourselves under enormous pressure because we had not been in the previous World Cup. No one else was to blame. In our head we only had the obsession to win and so much pressure cut our wings. It was as if we were playing with the brake of hand thrown. Katalinski’s goal was the finishing touch. That goal should never have entered. The grass played a bad move on ‘Chopo’ (Iribar). He slipped and couldn’t catch the center from the right. Even so, he stopped it and the ball stays there loose. It’s one of those bland, pointless goals. What was that Katalinski doing there? It was a blow, we had 80 minutes to go, but we never got into the game. We are frozen, unable to react … Now that I see that the teams come back two and three goals in five minutes, I remember that and that we were not able to score one “.

“We played the whole game with the handbrake on. The pressure cut our wings”


Argentina 1978

Rubén Cano’s goal. Yugoslavia again on the road. A priori, the situation was not so dramatic, although it later became so because of how the game developed. For Spain, still trained by Kubala, it was enough to lose by the minimum that last game to qualify for Argentina 78. The rival took the match to the limit. Belgrade’s ‘little Maracana’ was brimming with aggressiveness. Field invasion before starting the clash and treacherous tackles by the Yugoslavs since the ball was set in motion to intimidate the Spanish players. They did not succeed. And less after Rubén Cano’s goal in the 70th minute that ensured the result.

Then came the attack on Juanito. When he was substituted and headed to the bench he gave a thumbs down gesture and the response from the stands was a massive throw of objects. A bottle hit him on the head and he had to be removed on a stretcher … The objective of the classification was fulfilled. Isidoro San José, Real Madrid defender, made his debut that day with the national team. The mark was marked forever, as it is well present in AS.

“I did not see anything like it again in the rest of my career. The first minutes were hunting the man. First Juanito and then Pirri. As they did not injure him the first time, they go for him again and they have to go before the first quarter of an hour is over. ”When we warmed up, the German Police Shepherds were on the pitch in case fans jumped from the stands. They threw everything at us. The soldiers were confronting the police themselves. That day I played in the center of the field, marking Surjak, who was his star. I ate it, I bored him. He was tugging at my ear, at my sideburns, but I didn’t get into his game. It was one of my first man markings, then I had to deal with Kempes, with Maradona, with Cruyff, with Zico… “.

“The first minutes were hunting the man, until they injured Pirri”

Saint Joseph

Mexico 1986

Rincon and Gordillo, to the rescue. After the failure in the World Cup in Spain 82, which the team faced as host, the qualification for the next Championship was not achieved until the last game. The defeats in Scotland and Wales led to the obligation to win over Iceland yes or yes in the last match and the coach Miguel Muñoz once again pulls his favorite double talisman, Sevilla and his fans. With the 12-1 victory over Malta in memory, two years later Benito Villamarín burst for the occasion and two Betis were the scorers. Poli Rincón scored the first from Gordillo’s pass and Rafa himself caught the second in a classic ram pirouette in a clearance by Gerardo that reached his domain.

USA 1994

Hierro and Cañizares, rescuers. Eight years later, the team, already trained by Javier Clemente, returned to leave everything for the last day. A situation very similar to the current one. I had to win the last two games, Republic of Ireland and Denmark. All three teams reached day ‘d’ with qualifying options. Spain played a great game in Dublin (1-3) and the final was played against the Danes, who had won the last European Championship (1992), at the Sánchez Pizjuán.

The duel started crooked. Zubizarreta inadvertently handed a ball to Laudrup and was forced to knock him down outside the area. Expulsion. All eyes turned to the bench where a 23-year-old Celta player appeared, with 13 on his back, who was not even the usual substitute and who had been called at the last minute because Lopetegui had some back discomfort. Santi Cañizares He has recorded in his retina each and every one of the sequences of his first international match, in which he ended up being one of the best of the team.

“Clemente didn’t tell me anything. Manolo Delgado, the physical trainer, who sent me to warm up accompanied by a ‘you, calm down’. I was, really. I knew that this was not my game, it was not my turn to play it and he had nothing to lose. That brown was not mine, I had not been responsible for the situation that had arrived. He had been called at the last minute and possibly did not feel that responsibility that others could have. I thought a lot in a few seconds. I had to be cold, take my time to go out and little by little I got into the game. A first divided ball that I kicked out with my feet. A couple of shots that I caught well … AND so the minutes went by until Hierro scored. There was half an hour left and from then on I did start to feel a certain uneasiness, you couldn’t lose what we had already won. It made me eternal. We defended very well and in the end I felt immense satisfaction. “

“I was calm, but from our goal the game became eternal”


Fernando Hierro qualifies his goal as the most important of his life and has seen the play so many times that he recites it as the line-up of the team that day. “At half-time we had talked that with one less we had to be patient, not receive a goal and try to take advantage of the opportunities we had in set pieces. I had my attacking position in those actions closer to the post furthest from the shot and near the line of the small area and Bakero decided to get in front of Schmeichel to obstruct him. If you hear José Mari speak, it seems that the goal was scored by him because he hindered the goalkeeper, but the one who finished off that very tense and past center of Goikoetxea was me. all the companions fell on top “.

“The most important goal of my life, but Bakero helped me with his obstruction to Schmeichel”


Brazil 2014

Four consecutive victories. World champion Spain made life difficult in the qualifying phase of the next edition. Two consecutive domestic draws against Finland and France, forced the team to go against the current and had to win in the next four games. The key triumph was in Paris (0-1) with a goal from PedroBut then they had to beat Finland away and Belarus and Georgia at home. In this last match, played in Albacete, a point had to be added and Del Bosque’s men complied with the record with goals from Negredo and Mata.

Although there was no final decisive match as such, in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, Spain had to play a play-off to reach Germany. Second in their group after Serbia, Luis Aragonés’s team already ruled in the first leg against Slovakia (5-1) with goals from Luis García (3), Fernando Torres and Morientes. In the second leg, the pass was sealed with a 1-1 draw (Villa).

A repechage and five walks

Up to five times, the National Team achieved its goal of being in the World Cup finals without having to wait for the last appointment. For Russia-2018, Lopetegui’s team achieved the mathematical classification in the penultimate match against Albania (3-0), Rodrigo, Thiago and Isco. The last game against Israel was left over, which was also won (0-1). Nine wins and a draw.

Excellence occurred in the qualifying phase for the World Cup in South Africa. 10 games, 10 wins. The pass was consummated when they beat Estonia (3-0) in Merida. Cesc, Cazorla and Mata. There were still two games to go.

Camacho was leading the team on the road to Korea-Japan 2002. Spain secures the pass in their penultimate match against Austria in Valencia (4-0). The last one against Liechtenstein (0-2) already sounded like a celebration. Four years before, France 98, Clemente’s team also dominated the qualifying round with ease and also got the pass in their penultimate match against Slovakia (1-2), Kiko and Amor. Over 3-1 against the Faroe Islands.

Also on the way to Italia 90, Luis Suárez’s team did their homework early. With a draw in Hungary (2-2). Just the point that was needed for the classification. The last match against the Magyars served to thrash (4-0) and celebrate success.

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