Republic of Ireland
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12:00 AM UTC Oct 9, 2015
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 By Lee Roden

Spain's defensive headache at forefront for Vicente del Bosque

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque denies Diego Costa was omitted from his La Roja's latest squad for his actions in Chelsea's Premier League clash against Arsenal, but condemned the striker's behaviour.

For all that Spain's former glory years at the top of world football are associated with their brilliant attacking play, those triumphs were also built upon a rock solid defence.

In Vicente del Bosque's crowning moment at the 2010 World Cup, he was able to field a back line that knew each other inside out. Joan Capdevila, Gerard Pique, Carlos Puyol and Sergio Ramos were as competent a combination as any national team's at the time, their communication fine-tuned through shared international...

Spain defeat Slovakia in tight Euro qualifying race - what we learned

Spain avenged their 2-1 loss to Slovakia with this win, and now go joint-top of Group C in defeating Slovakia in Oviedo.
With Slovakia and Spain now monopolizing the top two spots in Group C, third-place squad Ukraine must beat both teams if they wish to qualify automatically.

OVIEDO, Spain -- Given the heights to which Spain have soared in recent years, it's true that a 2-0 home win over Slovakia to go top of Group C with 18 points doesn't quite merit the popping of Cava corks.

But for morale, belief, the evolution of the post-Xavi-Xabi Alonso-David Villa era and for the task of qualifying for the chance to win an unprecedented third straight European title, this was a big result. And a decent performance, with goals from Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta.

Here are five...

 By Nick Miller

England continue Euro perfection, while Spain squeak by Belarus

It's heading toward crunch time in the 2016 European Championship qualifiers. ESPN FC's Nick Miller takes a look at some of the biggest talking points from this week's games.

'Perfect' England march on

The opposition has been modest, the performances often uneven, but you can't argue with the results. Six games in, and England have a 100 percent record, one of just two sides in the entire qualification competition to have won every game in which they have played. Spain, Germany, the Netherlands,...

Netherlands win easily as Spain still struggling with post-World Cup rebuild

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque gives reaction to 2-0 defeat to Netherlands in friendly.
Davy Klaassen scored the second Dutch goal as the hosts enjoyed a comfortable win over struggling Spain.

Two goals in three minutes put Netherlands on course for an easy 2-0 win over Spain. Here are three points on Tuesday's friendly in Amsterdam.

1. Spain stung by speedy Dutch start

Goals in the opening 16 minutes from Stefan de Vrij and Davy Klaassen were easily enough for the Netherlands to defeat a still out-of-sorts Spain side. Neither team impressed over much after that; the Dutch were happy enough to hold onto their deserved early lead while the visitors huffed, puffed and made the odd...

Atletico Madrid's Koke on the way to being the 'boss' of Spain

Koke, right, and Isco, left, represent the future of Spain's midfield.

As Spain struggled to make a breakthrough against a robust, if limited, Ukraine side in Seville last week, they were in need of inspiration and a spot of magic.

Without the likes of Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez, and with Andres Iniesta's influence waning, a lot was expected from the likes of Isco. It was one of the less mainstream midfielders who took the proverbial bull by the horns and showed that extra bit of quality that has been lacking from La Roja's play until then: Koke.

The Atletico Madrid...

 By Michael Cox

Netherlands and Spain's recent World Cup meetings have grown a rivalry

Most football rivalries originate from geographic or political concerns, but the most intriguing are often those based purely upon football.

In this respect, the 2010 and 2014 World Cup matches between the Netherlands and Spain, who meet again in Amsterdam on Tuesday night, have been significant enough to form a brand-new rivalry on the international stage.

Before the 2010 final, these two countries had never previously met at a major tournament. They'd faced one another in friendlies, in qualifiers...