NATIONS LEAGUE | SPAIN 1 – PORTUGAL 1 Spain falls asleep in Seville

NATIONS LEAGUE |  SPAIN 1 - PORTUGAL 1 Spain falls asleep in Seville



NATIONS LEAGUE | SPAIN 1 - PORTUGAL 1 Spain falls asleep in Seville

It was the beginning of the trip and as there is a long road ahead, the result will have to be taken with all the caution in the world. Spain punctured against Portugal at the start of the Nations League and in what seems like the first step towards that World Cup in Qatar that awaits in the fall. Morata’s goal and Gavi’s performance made us smile, Ricardo Horta’s defensive error in both reminded us how much one has to sweat against carat teams such as Portugal. And that Cristiano only played half an hour and he just said this mouth is mine.

That was the big news at the start, that the man from United, the footballer who got fed up with winning titles at Real Madrid, was a substitute at the start. How to learn to play without it? That is a question to which the Bernabéu found an answer four years ago, Benzema was there to make this trip sweeter, but the one Portugal must face sooner rather than later. In Seville, Fernando Santos carried out a simulation, with a striker in which the responsibility for the goal rested with Leao and André Silva. They are not Cristiano, with 37 years already on their identity card, but they have a fang sharp enough to put any rival in trouble. Luis Enrique opted for Diego Llorente and Pau Torres as a couple to face that dynamite; Laporte was absent and Eric Garcia did a continuous run before the game but finally did not make the list.

The experiment worked. And he did it fundamentally because that defensive work starts in Morata. If not, it doesn’t work. The pressure is a choral issue that was clear to Portugal from the first stages of the match. As Fernando Santos had predicted in the previous one (“I think that the strongest attribute of Spain is not the possession of the ball, but the ability to recover it”), La Roja bites very high and that leaves the rival gasping for air. But of course, that recipe is valid in any kitchen, so the Portuguese players also pressed up. In the 17th minute we witnessed a good example of this, with Guerreiro stealing a move from Spain down the right. The one from Dortmund crossed Leao with his left foot and the one from Milan finished off too high when he enjoyed a good chance to score. The clearest so far. It was the first serious warning and that worried Luis Enrique, who did not like the song at all. But there are songs that suddenly change rhythm, abruptly, thunderously. And these days when the Rolling Stones still resound after their concert in Madrid, a rocker like Gavi is capable by himself of animating what until then heralded a 0-0 like the one in the last two clashes between Spain and Portugal.

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The action of the azulgrana had everything. First, the instinct to go for a loose ball on the edge of the Spanish box; then, the speed to win the sprint for the ball from Bruno Fernandes; and finally, the courage to see a passing line between the Portuguese central defenders so that the ball would reach Sarabia with perfect position and speed. This yielded to the first to the opposite stick to Morata, who beat Diogo Costa with a low shot. In short, one of those goals that we see in the training videos but that later have to be converted into live fire in a competitive match. That is the true merit. The GPS tells me that from Benito Villamarín to Los Palacios and Villafranca, Gavi’s hometown, there are 25 kilometers. I’m sure that from the stadium he heard the applause of his countrymen. How not to applaud…

That goal animated the match like a cocktail shaker. So much so that only three minutes later, Soler had a double shot, with the right and with the left, which almost made it 2-0. And this time, the key in the lock was turned again by Gavi. The defenses opened up and the ball began to travel faster, which brought with it chances and cards, like the ones Sarabia, Moutinho and Bernardo Silva saw in the 37th, 38th and 39th minutes. A foul at the edge of the area that Sarabia threw over the crossbar was the last oops in a first part that showed its best face when the blackboards began to wobble.

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Portugal changed airs at the restart. On the field, because Santos opted for a more direct attack and his pupils got the message the first time. And in the band, because Cristiano began to warm up (with a greeting to Carvajal, who did the same, included) and that acted as a tailwind for both his teammates and the Portuguese fans who were in the stands. Bernardo Silva turned to the right, teamed up with Cancelo, a friend at City, and from that left boot the Portuguese team gained momentum. In the 59th minute, Leao came close to scoring after a brilliant feint after receiving a pass from André Silva. But the jewel shot rossonera he was rejected for a corner by Unai Simón in the best save of the night.

With half an hour to go, Santos decided to show off the best he had in his closet. In one fell swoop, Cristiano and Guedes jumped onto the pitch as replacements for Otávio and André Silva. Through that same window of changes, Koke and Olmo entered for Soler and Ferran Torres. And the change of cards only confirmed what was the trend in that second half: more control of the ball and danger on the part of Portugal.

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What nobody counted on is that La Roja would be so fragile in defense. And a large part of the blame lay with Ricardo Horta, who came on for Leao in the 72nd minute. Ten minutes later, an attack down the right flank resulted in a low pass to the Braga striker, who did not spare. Not even Jordi Alba’s extreme header (87′) led us to victory. A new draw against Portugal froze our smiles. We will have to row in Prague, there we have a river for it.

Changes

Reuben Neves (45′, Moutinho), Goncalo Guedes (61′, Andre Silva), Christian (61′, Otavinho), Koke (62′, Carlos Soler), Daniel Olmo (62′, Ferran Torres), of Thomas (69′, Morata), Horta (71′, Rafael Leao), Mark Llorente (80′, Gavi), Matheus (80′, Bruno Fernandes)

goals

1-0, 24′: bruise1-1, 81′: Horta

cards

Sarabia (35′, Yellow) Moutinho (37′, Yellow) Bernard Silva (38′, Yellow) Llorente (71′, Yellow) Matheus (82′, Yellow) Busquets (91′, Yellow) Pepe (92′, Yellow

Classification

Group 2

PT

pjs

GP

PE

PP

1

3 1 1
two

1 1 1
3

1 1 1
4

1 1

Group 2

PT

pjs

GP

PE

PP

1

3 1 1
two

1 1 1
3

1 1 1
4

1 1

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