Former England defender Gary Neville explains why Spain are the best team he's seen in the World Cup.
Gary Neville says Spain’s performance against Portugal in their opening World Cup game was the best of the tournament so far.
Despite losing their manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament, Spain twice came from behind to lead Portugal 3-2 before a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick denied them with just minutes remaining.
Neville says mistakes marred Spain’s opener, but it was a better performance than perhaps they’ve been given credit for.
“Spain look strong to me,” he told Sky Sports.
“I think when you look at that Spain first game against Portugal, it was maybe a lot better performance than we realised at the time because of say, for instance, David de Gea’s mistake that you wouldn’t expect him to make too many times, Nacho’s foul on Ronaldo in the first five minutes, and even [Gerard] Pique’s free kick against Ronaldo on the edge of the box.
“And then obviously Cristiano himself being able to score like he did.
“So maybe that first performance by Spain still probably puts them, in terms of my idea, of probably being the best I’ve seen so far.”
Spain lifted the World Cup trophy for the first time in 2010 after Andrés Iniesta’s late extra-time goal against the Netherlands, but were sent home early in 2014 after defeats in their first two games.
Neville has backed them to go all the way this year after they got through another tough test by breaking down Iran in a 1-0 victory on Wednesday.
“There’s something a little ominous about Spain,” he said. “[The draw with Portugal] was a better performance than we thought.
“I know they had their difficulties against Iran and they got through it, but I just think Spain at the moment, and Brazil, are the two that I would look at.
“I would change from my France prediction and go for Spain or Brazil if I was a betting man – which I’m not.”
Spain’s final group stage game is against Morocco on Monday 25 June, while Brazil play their second game of the tournament against Costa Rice on Friday 22, and face Serbia on Wednesday 27.