After N. Ireland 0-2 Spain, 8 February 1989.

With four matches played of their qualification campaign for Italia’90, Spain had  a 100 % record, leading their group by a good margin. 8 points, 10 goals scores, 0 conceded.

Suárez had changed his formations according to the opposition. He was still inclined to start with a 5-3-2 when he sensed a threat from the opposition, and preferred 4-3-3 when attacking.


Ablanedo was now the regular numer 2 behind Zubizarreta. In his absence, Suárez had called up Vicente Biurrun of Athletic Bilbao. Was Biurrun now the new third choice?


Andrinúa had been the ever-present rock in the defence. Manuel Sanchís had for various reasons only played 2 matches, and so Andrinúa now almost looked the big star in that part of the team. Górriz is a far more limited defender than Sanchís, but had done well. Ricardo Serna was another new option in central defence: number 4 in the hierarchy. The full backs had been a big question before the qualifiers. Manuel Jiménez had made the left back his own. So too had Quique on the right side. Chendo was chosen as the replacement when Quique was injured. López Rekarte had been a hot name in autumn 1988, but hadn’t even been on the bench so far.


Míchel, Roberto and Martín Vázquez were the undisputed trio. Míchel had for the most part been the deepest of them, but gave this position to Roberto in Belfast. Changes underway? There were no real contenderes for their places in the team, not even on the bench.


Bakero didn’t play a minute until the 4th game because of injuries. But when injury free, he took the berth that Manolo had filled so well. Butragueño of course a first team choice and now captain as well. Julio Salinas was usually included in the squad, but had played only a few minutes so far. He had to be counted as a 4th choice now. At his most attacking-minded, Suárez played with three forwards, and included Beguiristain as a left flank.