Spain had enjoyed reasonable success in their latest World Cup and were seeded in Group 6 of the European qualification. Where did they stand before their campaign for the 1990 World Cup?
Even though the period under Miguel Muñoz in general had been positive for the national team, the team was criticized after a disappointing Euro 1988. Spain had looked static and uninspirational, critics claimed. Following the group exit, several veterans retired from the national team: Camacho, Víctor, Gallego, Gordillo.
Luis Suárez was appointed new manager after the Euro exit. He had been coaching the U21s since 1984 (and possibly involved in Spain’s staff during the 1988 Euros?) and thefore knew well the younger team members of the current squad. With all the retirements, his side was also to be one of the youngest in the UEFA qualifying zone for Italia’90. While there still was a backbone in the team (Zubizarreta, Sanchís, Michél, Butragueño), there were certainly a lot of positions to be filled.
14.09.88 Spain 1-2 Yugoslavia
Line-up (4-3-3): Zubizarreta (Ablanedo 85) – Chendo, Andrinúa, Sanchís (Patxi Ferreira 85), Soler (Quique 61) – Patxi Salinas (Julio Salinas 60), Míchel, Martín Vázquez – Roberto, Butragueño (c) (Nando 61), Begiristain
After a relatively bright opening half hour, Spain faded, and although they could have claimed that they had deserved a share of the spoils, Yugoslavia appeared the better team going forward. It was a disappointing defeat in Luis Suárez’ first match in charge, and after the three European Championships defeats it was hardly what they had wanted to try and bring back some enthusiasm for the national team.
12.10.88 Spain 1-1 Argentina
Line-up (4-4-2) : Zubizarreta – Quique (Jiménez h-t), Andrinúa, Sanchís, López Rekarte – Martín Vázquez, Míchel, Roberto, Begiristain (Patxi Salinas 80) – Bakero, Butragueño (c) (Julio Salinas 87)
With these two matches, it became clear that Luis Suárez had a new midfield constellation in mind, and also was unsure about who to play as full backs.
Spain’s team selection autumn 1988
16.11.1988. Spain 2-0 Rep. of Ireland
Goals: Manolo, Butragueño
Line-up (5-3-2): Zubizarreta – Quique (Solana 85), Górriz, Andrinúa, Sanchís, Jiménez – Míchel, Roberto, Martín Vázquez – Manolo (Ramón 69), Butragueño (c)
The Spanish open their qualifying account with a massively important win against possible group title rivals. Suárez had started off with a 5-3-2 formation, but had switched to 4-4-2 for the second half. Defender Górriz and forward Manolo had been surprise starters
21.12.1988. Spain 4-0 N. Ireland
Goals: Rogan (own goal), Butragueño, Míchel (pen.), Roberto
Line-up (4-4-2): Zubizarreta – Quique, Andrinúa, Górriz, Jiménez – Míchel, Roberto, Martín Vázquez, Begiristain (Serna 65) – Manolo (Julio Salinas 78), Butragueño (c)
Despite winning by four clear goals, the Spanish did not create an awful lot of opportunities. Míchel had done well in the deep midfield role, but was still outshone by Real Madrid team mate Martín Vázquez. Spain had never been threatened defensively
22.01.1989 Malta 0-2 Spain
Goals: Míchel (pen.), Begiristain
Line-up (4-3-3): Zubizarreta – Quique, Andrinúa, Sanchís, Jiménez – Míchel, Roberto, Martín Vázquez – Manolo, Butragueño (c) (Górriz 77), Begiristain (Eusebio 67)
Up against a gutsy Malta, Spain need to demonstrate moments of class to return home with both points. They would lose Sanchís to a red card during the second half, meaning he would now miss the trip to Belfast
08.02.1989. Northern Ireland 0-2 Spain
Goals: Andrinúa, Manolo
Line-up (5-3-2): Zubizarreta – Chendo (Eusebio 40), Górriz, Andrinúa, Serna, Jiménez – Roberto, Míchel, Martín Vázquez – Bakero (Manolo 78), Butragueño (c)
Spain come to Belfast with a cautious approach, and get their win by scoring on two corners. It is Bakero’s first match in the qualifiers, but he does not look convincing and is taken off. So is Luis Suárez, who is sent to the stands for persistent complaints to the refereee.
23.03.1989. Spain 4-0 Malta
Goals: Míchel 2 (1 pen.), Manolo 2
Line-up (4-3-3): Zubizarreta – Quique, Andrinúa, Sanchís, Jiménez – Míchel, Roberto, Martín Vázquez (Eusebio 69) – Manolo, Butragueño (c), Begiristain (Eloy 69)
Spain win comprehensively despite not firing on all cylindres. They took advantage of weaknesses in the left side of the Malta defence, and Míchel plays a huge role in the win, even scoring twice
26.04.1989 Rep. of Ireland 1-0 Spain
Line-up (5-3-2): Zubizarreta – Quique (Eusebio 70), Górriz, Sanchís, Serna, Jiménez – Míchel, Roberto, Martín Vázquez – Manolo, Butragueño (c) (Julio Salinas 70)
20.09.1989. Spain 1-0 Poland
Line-up (4-4-2): Zubizarreta (Ochotorena 82) – Chendo, Andrinúa (Hierro 24), Sanchís, Jiménez – Míchel (Eusebio 70), Roberto (Minguela 59), Martín Vázquez, Villarroya – Manolo (Salinas 70), Butragueño (c)
4-4-2 for Suárez, giving left sided midfielder Villarroya his debut. Andrinúa had got injured and been replaced by another debutant in Hierro. Both Hierro and fellow debutant and former team mate at Valladolid, Minguela, would be severely booed by the La Coruña crowd after an incident in the previous season’s cup tournament. Míchel struck the sole goal, though Manolo could’ve scored twice, and Martín Vázquez, who had a fine game, also could’ve netted. Well deserved win ahead of the final two qualifying matches. A total of four players make their Spain debuts.
11.10.1989. Hungary 2-2 Spain
Goals: Julio Salinas, Míchel
Line-up (4-4-2): Zubizarreta (c) – Chendo, Andrinúa, Sanchís, Jiménez – Míchel, Roberto, Martín Vázquez, Villarroya – Manolo (Hierro 86), Julio Salinas (Pardeza 68)
15.11.1989. Spain 4-0 Hungary
Goals: Manolo, Butragueño, Juanito, Fernando
Line-up (4-4-2): Zubizarreta – Chendo, Juanito, Sanchís, Jiménez – Míchel (Eusebio 66), Milla, Fernando, Villarroya – Manolo (Julio Salinas 66), Butragueño (c)
Thanks to three first half goals, Spain romp to victory against careless visitors. There were goals for debutants Juanito and Fernando, and another player winning his first cap, midfielder Milla, also did well
Spain eventually defend their tag of being billed pre-campaign favourites, even if they won’t have it all their own way in a tough away game against Ireland, and they will also have been disappointed to have let a two goal lead in Budapest slip. Apart from that, they were more or less invincible. At home their tally of 14 goals scored and none conceded was second to none, and the city of Seville once again proved to be the right place for la roja to show their colours.
Luis Suárez brought with him some of the players that he had had during his time as Under-21 coach, and he would often keep faith in a lot of the same players from one match to another. Three players, goalkeeper Zubizarreta, left back Jiménez and midfield ace Míchel, started all of their eight matches, with others featuring six and seven times. The manager brought back into contention right back Chendo for the final couple of matches, as Quique had been unavailable due to injury. There were even appearances on the subs’ bench for Tomás, the player who had featured at right back both in the ’86 World Cup and during the ’88 European Championships. Andrinúa and Sanchís were Suárez’ prefered centre back partnership, while he would also deploy tactics including a five man defence, which would see tough Bask defender Górriz added to the mix. There were also a couple of appearances for the unspectacular Serna, whilst Juanito had seemed very confident when given the chance for the final match against the Hungarians.
Midfield: Suárez would often prefer a central three with Míchel sitting deep behind Martín Vázquez and Roberto. However, this appeared to be a bit light weight in tough away fixtures, and they did not prove to be the right solution for the tie in Dublin. Against weaker opposition Míchel would revel in his deep role, conducting Spanish attacks from the back, but he was hardly a great tackler of the ball. And there were limitations to both Martín Vázquez’ and even Roberto’s defensive capabilities. A hard man in midfield, as so often before seen in the Spanish national team colours, seemed to be missing. Eusebio was seen coming on no less than five times during the campaign, but was hardly this physical presence in midfield. Luis Milla was given the opportunity in a deep role in the final match, but it was no proper test against beleaguered Hungarians. Fernando also took his opportunity well to shine in a fairly easy contest. As for wide players, Begiristain had played three times and done alright, whilst Villarroya got the final two matches against the Hungarians. He was probably a step down from the Barça man. Even Eloy was seen in a sole substitute appearance. On the opposite flank, it was often up to the right back to go forward. Manolo would also feature more or less as a right forward in Suárez’ 4-3-3, whereas a more conservative alternative could be often used substitute Eusebio. Martín Vázquez was also no stranger to either flank.
Up front Manolo proved to be a real find with his five goals in total, Spain’s (and the group’s!) leading scorer along with Míchel. Butragueño would be wearing the captain’s armband whenever he was playing, and seemed to enjoy a great deal of trust from the manager. They both started seven out of eight matches. Bakero and Salinas had one starting berth each, with neither totally convincing the boss, and surely the former less than the latter. In-form Pardeza got a few minutes in Budapest, and Sevilla’s Ramón had been seen in the opening tie against the Irish appearing from the bench.
Spain had a high top level, but the manager would need to identify a solid defensive midfielder who could do the dirty work in front of his central defenders when in muddy waters. With the average age quite low, there did appear to be a lot of potential for further development, so Spain would be going to the World Cup as one of the rank outsiders.
Final position: 1 (out of 5 – qualified)
Total record: 8 6 1 1 20-3 13
Home record: 4 4 0 0 14-0 8
Away record: 4 2 1 1 6-3 5
Number of players used: 26
Number of players including unused substitutes: 32
Ever-presents (720 mins): 2 (Zubizarreta and Jiménez)
Leading goalscorer: Míchel and Manolo (both 5)
Yellow/red cards: 5/1
|Martín Vázquez, Rafael||7||7||609|
|Bakero, José Mari||1||1||78||1/0|
|Solana, Jesús Angel||1||1||5|
|Ablanedo, José Luis||3|
– game by game
|Player||Ire (h)||NIR (h)||Mal (a)||NIR (a)||Mal (h)||Ire (a)||Hun (a)||Hun (h)||Apps||Mins|
|Pos||Player||Average rating||Number of rated games|
13.12.1989 Spain 2-1 Switzerland
Goals: Míchel (pen.), Felipe
Line-up: Zubizarreta – Chendo, Andrinúa (Luis Manuel 64), Sanchís (Ferreira 49), Jiménez (Tomás 47) – Míchel, Milla (Moya 63), Martín Vázquez, Villarroya – Manolo (Felipe 49), Butragueño (c)
21.02.1990 Spain 1-0 Czechoslovakia
Line-up: Zubizarreta – Chendo, Andrinúa (Juanito 62), Sanchís, Górriz – Míchel (Rafa Paz 62), Roberto (Milla 53), Martín Vázquez, Villarroya – Manolo (Julio Salinas 79), Butragueño (c) (Pardeza 62)
28.03.1990 Spain 2-3 Austria
Goals: Manolo, Butragueño
Line-up: Zubizarreta – Chendo (Quique 56), Andrinúa, Sanchís, Jiménez – Míchel, Roberto (Górriz 56), Martín Vázquez (Rafa Paz 56), Villarroya – Manolo (Julio Salinas 70), Butragueño (c) (Pardeza 38)
26.05.1990 Yugoslavia 0-1 Spain
Line-up: Zubizarreta – Chendo (Alkorta 80), Andrinúa, Sanchís (Górriz 64), Jiménez – Míchel, Roberto, Martín Vázquez, Villarroya (Rafa Paz 64) – Manolo (Pardeza 80), Butragueño (c) (Fernando 88)