Why, Aragones, why? Having made a good decision in dropping Raul, he proceeds to screw everything else up by playing a narrow 4-4-2. So many inexplicable selection decisions - why Juanito and Capdevila? Why Fabregas and then Iniesta on the left wing? Does Spain not have any actual left wingers who aren't named Reyes?
Less ranting observations - Villa and Torres aren't a bad striking partnership, but part of me thinks that Spain might do well to recall Fernando Morientes and pair him up with Villa given the success they have as partners at Valencia. Puyol and Casillas have real communication problems. In the end, it says volumes that one of the best goal scoring chances for the Spaniards came from Puyol's header from a Xavi corner, which was cleared off the line.
By the way, Aragones doesn't intend to quit. What would make this man resign?
Italy 2-0 Ukraine
A vital result for the world champions, and although they don't quite convince just yet, the return of Luca Toni has to be a sight to warm the hearts of Azzuri fans. What an entertaining player he is. Ukraine were without bed-ridden Andriy Shevchenko and will need to improve if they want to qualify.
England 0-0 Macedonia
Tell me again how different McClaren's England is from Sven's? Those who were never convinced have even more ammunition now. It must also be worrying that Steven Gerrard - one of England's better midfielders, on any day - will now miss the next game against Croatia because of a second booking in two games. Surely a team with the aspirations of England should be able to find a quality replacement holding midfielder when their first choice is injured. McClaren is reportedly upset by England's lack of 'quality' in attack - which would be comical if it weren't so frustrating for England supporters. They were jeered off the pitch by their own fans, which says it all, really.
In other Barca-related news, Portugal cruised to a 3-0 victory over Azerbaijan courtesy of a goal by Ricardo Carvalho sandwiched between a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, with Deco playing well. France (and Thuram) crashed to a 1-0 defeat in Scotland, Eidur Gudjohnsen's Iceland were defeated 4-0 by Latvia (ouch), and the Netherlands - with Gio in his customary left-back position - were held to a 1-1 draw by Bulgaria, coached by Barca legend Hristo Stoichkov. Bad news for Liverpool, by the way - Dirk Kuyt seems to have picked up an injury. No injuries to Barca players so far, which is good, especially since quite a few of the uninvolved players - Edmilson and Marquez in particular - have picked up knocks recently.
Brazil won their friendly with Kuwait 4-0, with Ronaldinho having a bit of quiet game, setting up the strikers rather than running at goal himself. Not a problem, really, but we'll see what happens against more substantial opposition in Ecuador.
There's been renewed controversy over Chelsea putting tons of sand on the Stamford Bridge pitch before Barcelona visit. I'm not quite convinced just yet that it isn't just maintenance as Chelsea say. Most of the pre-match controversy is press-generated anyway. We'll see what the pitch looks like on the night. However, I have to quote Andres Iniesta (in the press conference before Sweden-Spain):
"We know what Mourinho is like," said Iniesta. "If the game turns out the same as last year then it won't bother us if he puts sand on the pitch...he can put whatever he wants on the pitch - it's all the same to us."
Well said, young man.
Javier Saviola has claimed that he would like a contract extension at Barca rather than a move somewhere else. I believe that the Real Madrid rumours are completely rubbish. By the way, it is my policy to not mention any transfer rumours unless they're credible, so you won't see anything about Gago and Palacio to Barca here. That said, Gago has been telling anyone who'd listen that he'd love to play for Barca or Real - who wouldn't? I don't see the need on Barca's side, frankly. While Edmilson is injury-prone, his young replacement Motta isn't that bad. Buying another defensive midfielder smacks of Galatico-style treasure collecting.
Poor Ludovic Giuly was left mystified yet again as the France coach opted for fricking Nicolas Anelka instead of him to replace injured winger Govou and striker Louis Saha. What does he have to do to get back into the national team, for God's sake?