Los 40 USA
NewslettersSign in to commentAPP
spainSPAINchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA


Spain show a lack of bite in Transylvania with Romania draw

It ends in a draw in Cluj with La Roja having strong claims for a penalty in the final moments waved away. Casillas stood out in a team which did little to threaten the home goal.

El rumano Popa, entre Jordi Alba y Bartra.
El rumano Popa, entre Jordi Alba y Bartra.INQUAM PHOTOSREUTERS

Vicente Del Bosque turned the team inside out like a sock with expectations of a second day's usage, but the result - maybe unsurprisingly - was rather disappointing for everyone around. In saying that, the goalless draw with Romania - a team that has now drawn six of their last seven - did give us, and hopefully the coach, some useful insights as he looks to pick his 23-man squad for the summer tournament in France. Silva adds value; Busquets is necessary, and Iniesta fundamental. Not only this, but Diego Costa may still have a lifeline when it looked as though it had gone. Decisions regarding the strikeforce requirements including him, Aduriz, Morata, Alcácer and Nolito have to be carefully considered to ensure Plan A has a back-up Plan B and maybe even a Plan C.

Jordi Alba and Marc Bartra of Spain vie for the ball against Adrian Popa of Romania.
Full screen
Jordi Alba and Marc Bartra of Spain vie for the ball against Adrian Popa of Romania.DANIEL MIHAILESCUAFP

The last line of defence is more defined. Casillas proved some of his doubters wrong in this game, if that can be achieved by keeping a clean sheet and doing pretty much all he was asked to do. A couple of punch clearances could be questioned but generally he was solid and got down really well in the middle of the first half to push away an angled drive that came through a cluster of bodies. Even so, the form over the last couple of seasons in Manchester will see David De Gea take over the Porto keeper's mantle as Spain's first choice. Another national team record was achieved for Iker with this game being the 166th of his professional career, more than any other European. How valuable could he be in June?

Iker punches clear.
Full screen
Iker punches clear.JUAN FLORDIARIO AS

In possession, Spain, much like Dracula to keep the analogy alive, appears to take two forms. There's the version with the midfield pairing of Busquets and Iniesta, and another without them. Sergi Roberto had a sound debut and Koke likewise performed well at the task in hand. Silva, without the creativity of iniesta, had to step up in the same way that Neymar does without Messi, and Bale does if Cristiano is missing. He did so but not enough to break down a solid, and often numerous, backline.

David Silva skips round Dragos Grigore.
Full screen
David Silva skips round Dragos Grigore.DANIEL MIHAILESCUAFP

The fact that these two friendlies have preceded El Clásico may not have helped matters and clearly all the changes made between each match (only Piqué started both) had an influence. Del Bosque has big decisions to make and not much time to make them ahead of a competition that Spain are looking to win for the third consecutive time. He may need to show some teeth.