June 23, 2006
Spain 1, Saudi Arabia 0: Having already clinched a spot in the next round, Spain took their collective foot off the pedal and played their reserve team, and still dominated a weak Arabian team. All eleven starters from the opener against Ukraine were benched, and seven players saw their first Cup action. There are too many teams like the Saudis in the World Cup, teams with no hope of advancing. The big difference between the NCAA Tournament and the World Cup is that the Field of 64 gets winnowed down immediately; SUNY-Albany, Alabama State, and Oral Roberts play their games, get beat and go home, while the Saudis, the Togolese and the Costa Ricans stick around for two weeks, their hopes dashed right off the bat, but still having to put out a team to sacrifice to the soccer gods.