Spain worried about WC pitch condition

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iol spt pic Spain fans AP Spanish fans celebrate at Barcelona's Plaza Espana after Spain's defeated the Netherlands 1-0 to win the World Cup in 2010. Photo: David Ramos

Curitiba, Brazil - Spain is worried that poor pitch conditions in Brazil could hurt its playing style as it tries to defend its World Cup title.

Spain often preaches the importance of a well-maintained playing surface for its quick-passing, possession-based game, which it said let it down in an opening 1-1 draw against Italy at Euro 2012.

The campaign to ensure that playing surfaces are up to scratch in Brazil has already begun.

Striker Diego Costa said “the field has to be wet and well-groomed” for Friday's opener against the Netherlands at Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova.

That is looking like a tall order at some venues.

Italy and England play Saturday at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, where the pitch is dry with white stripes visible.

“For the moment all we know is that the pitch is brown,” Italian football federation vice president Demetrio Albertini said.

The grass being used at World Cup venues combines a mix of European and South American seeds - with the latter known for slowing the ball.

European “ray grass” grows vertically to provide a polished surface, while South American seeds grow coarser grass blades that also emerge horizontally.

“In a country this big with such a variety of climates it's difficult to maintain a certain standard,” said Carlos Botella, a groundsman for Spanish company Royal Verd, which is managing seven of the 12 pitches, including at Salvador.

“Luckily for the World Cup we have mixed the two seeds so that the blades remain strong to maintain resistance while also ensuring the ball moves quickly.”

Royal Verd also maintains the pitch at Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium, so Botella knows just what type of surface Spain's players enjoy most as their style of play bears a close resemblance to Barcelona's.

But Botella said Fifa's rules were clear, and that the grass length was set between 18 and 22 cm and that watering the field was not up to the teams but to the Fifa general coordinator.

So Spain, shouldn't worry - or get too used to the Atletico Paranaense training ground in the southeastern city of Curitiba where the squad has been preparing.

“The field was good, it was short and fast, great for quick touches, which is what we like,” Spain midfielder Koke said Wednesday of Spain's training facility. “That's important so that the ball rolls quickly.”


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