Spain may have been given a rather short straw in Netherlands and Chile in their World Cup draw, but that shouldn't give them cause for concern. The pressure is on the rest...
Those of us who support lowly clubs can find it difficult to imagine the fuss made over two defeats suffered by a goliath. Will this weekend's Copa offer some respite?
If there are two teams in Spain that deserve a big "must do better" kick up the bum after four rounds, it is Valencia and Sevilla. La Liga really needs these two big hitters to be swinging punches near the top of the table to liven things up. Yet both are stumbling in and around the relegation zone. Rather wonderfully, the teams are meeting on Sunday night in Mestalla.
Of the two offenders, Sevilla have the best excuse for being completely hopeless. First off, that is how the side have been for the past four years, so a footballing leopard cannot change its spots that quickly. Secondly, manager Unai Emery has almost completely scrapped the squad from last season and replaced it with brand new players. Just four of the men that started the final match of last season - coincidentally against Valencia - began against Barcelona, last week.
Naturally, this process of adaption will not happen overnight. It certainly hasn't been helped with Sevilla facing Atlético Madrid and Barcelona early doors, the two current über-masters of La Primera with 100% records. They are still sniffing its way into the season with just two points to leave Sevilla second-from-bottom of the table.
However, there was enough fine football on display against Barcelona in the Camp Nou - the side were about two seconds from picking up a point - to suggest that life will eventually get better for the Andalusians. After all, abandoning a tactical plan that was largely based around Jesús Navas bombing the ball into the box for Alvaro Negredo is no easy feat.
Sevilla fans are as passionate as anyone else, but there is a sense that the current manager is embarking on a huge overhaul of the team and that time and patience is required. Unfortunately, Miroslav Djukic does not have that luxury at Valencia, a club whose supporters make habit of bringing white hankies to games, on the off chance that they are able to wave them in disgust at full-time.
Under a new president and a tough-talking manager and former player, this was supposed to the season that the club got serious, and found a path out of its horrendous debt problems that still leaves an unfinished stadium in the middle of the city. Unfortunately, Djukic has discovered familiar problems that forever haunt the club, namely off-the-field politics based on how to refinance the institution and dressing room complaints from footballers who feel they should be playing more.
Valencia are currently lying in sixteenth place, with just three points and three defeats in a row against Espanyol, Barcelona and Betis with nine goals conceded. If that was not bad enough for a club whose fans are demanding a return to the Champions League after finishing fifth last year, the east coast team had a disastrous result in the Europa League against Swansea on Thursday night.
The 3-0 defeat saw prickly home fans informing the players that they "don't deserve to wear the shirt." It was a stance fully understood by Djukic who admitted after the match that "we can't ask the fans for support, because we haven't given them anything."
Valencia's problems lie mainly in defence, although the goals of Roberto Soldado are certainly being missed. Against Betis in particular, the back four looked ponderous, slow and disorganised and is currently as leaky as can be. "We can't win a game when you let in three."
The question now is how long the Serbian is going to remain at his post. Whilst the new Valencia is supposedly one based on a solid, firm commitment to a stable, future project, the club is supported by the most impatient fans in La Liga. This is the group that forced the departure of Unai Emery, a coach who took Valencia to third for three seasons in a row. He is also the coach who is currently in charge of visiting Sevilla, on Sunday.
Last year, Valencia had a poor start to the season and fired Mauricio Pellegrino, a former player who was thought to be able to bring the dressing room into line and inspire an unmotivated group of footballers. Ernesto Valverde took over and had better luck, but moved on to Athletic Bilbao over the summer.
Djukic arrived after a solid spell at Valladolid, but has made an unfortunate start to the season with talk already about his immediate future. "If I was the technical secretary, then I would make the most correct decision," said the Valencia boss after the Swansea loss. If matters do not improve this weekend against Sevilla, then a decision to find yet another Mestalla manager may well be taken.
Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter
Swansea had more spanish players in starting eleven than Valencia.. Just shows that spanish clubs other than Barca and Madrid can no longer hold their best players..- metal