Whatever England can do, Spain can do better… but does thrashing hapless opposition in your opening game really turn anyone into instant World Cup contenders?
That should come in their next match, on Sunday against a Germany side who will be fighting for their future in this tournament after their shock defeat by Japan.
There was still much to savour for Spain and their supporters at Al Thumama Stadium, of course, especially Gavi’s delicious volley to make it 5-0, but it was evident from the start that this was a giant mis-match and the scoreline reflected the huge gulf between the two sides.
Costa Rica were the last team to qualify for Qatar, thanks to a play-off victory over New Zealand in June, but barring a huge improvement they look likely to be one of the first teams to be eliminated.
Spain ripped through them far too easily, sometimes straight down the middle of the pitch, and the game was finished as a contest after barely half an hour when Ferran Torres converted a penalty to make it 3-0.
They kept coming forward in waves in the second half and more goals followed even after Enrique made a raft of changes – like England some of their substitutes got involved in the scoring.
Costa Rica were not just outpassed – they managed 241 to 1,043 – they were also outclassed, and failed to muster a single shot at goal. The closest they got to that was four touches in the Spain area, two in each half.
Former England defender Gary Neville saw those sorry statistics as more of a sign of how bad the 2014 quarter-finalists were, rather than how good Spain were.
“Well done to Spain they’ve done their job,” Neville said on ITV. “I didn’t think Costa Rica could get any worse in the second half but they surpassed their first-half performance. They were hesitant.
They were a mess. “I can’t just measure Spain at all on that. Costa Rica are the first team in 32 years to not have a shot at goal, that can’t happen. “They’ve had multiple World Cups. There was nothing out there today.
I have no idea what’s just happened. “Spain keep the ball, we know that, but that is as bad as it gets for a team that has got a lot of experience.”
Former England goalkeeper Rob Green added on BBC Radio 5 live: “Spain have been brilliant but I’m tempted to say this game won’t tell us a lot about them in this tournament. The strength of the opposition, Costa Rica really haven’t made it difficult. “They made it a walk in the park for Spain.
Realistically, the substitutions Spain made in the second half, they were blooding youngsters, resting old legs; Costa Rica knew the game was up.”