Luis Garcia: 'The competition at the World Cup is pretty high'

With a number of favourites struggling to stamp their authority at this year's FIFA World Cup, former Spanish midfielder Luis Garcia feels such a closing of the gap between teams was for the good of the game.

"Bringing [Fernando] Hierro as the manager was the preferred move because he has been with the players for long," according to former Spanish midfielder Luis Garcia.   -  AP

The ongoing World Cup in Russia may be witnessing a number of favourites struggling to stamp their authority, but according to former Spanish midfielder Luis Garcia, such a closing of the gap between teams was for the good of the game.

“The big teams are struggling to get results and that means the competition at the World Cup is pretty high,” said Garcia, who is in India as part of Sony Pictures' commentary panel. “I do hope all the big guns go through but it is great to see other nations playing well. There are not a lot of goals, but they have been very good games.”

“They organise well at the back because they know that they will struggle otherwise. Brazil has Neymar, [Philippe] Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus. So against them, if you don't hold very well at the back, you are going to find it tough. These teams have really worked on that and are getting results.”

Spain faced one such side in Iran but wriggled out with a narrow 1-0 victory. Before that, the 2010 winner was held to a draw by Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal. But the former Liverpool player felt that there was no cause for worry.

“Spain is getting better. The first game was against a very good Portugal team. Iran is very compact and it was difficult for the kind of football Spain like to play – to keep moving the ball and try and look for those small gaps. In the end, they managed to score which was the most important thing.”

The firing of coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before the opening match for having negotiated a post-World Cup job with Real Madrid wouldn't affect the squad much, Garcia felt. “I don't think it will affect them. Bringing [Fernando] Hierro as the manager was the preferred move because he has been with the players for long. He will be expected to give them confidence and keep them calm than changing anything on the pitch.”

The 40-year-old, however, added that the performance at the World Cup will be the best judge. “Nobody expected this situation. The Spanish federation chairman [Luis Rubiales] hasn't been in the position for a long time [appointed only in May] and immediately he finds himself in this problem. He has tried to do the best for the national team. At the end of the day, the World cup will tell if it was the right call or not.”

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