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Spain gifted a half and they paid dearly

Albania vs Spain live

As they say in Spanish, a shrimp that falls asleep is carried away by the current. You snooze, you lose. Spain had a comfortable first half, under no pressure, and it cost them the match. It was a hot evening, very little competition and the opposition were penned in, giving the feeling that the game would work itself out. This was Spain in the first half. You could make an exception for Lucas Vázquez, who debuted with the eagerness of an apprentice bull fighter. He made several runs and finished one of them off with a sublime cross allowing Aduriz to rise like a lion but his header went just wide. That chance, plus a shot off the post from Thiago, was all that Spain could muster in the first half. At the other end, Georgia escaped once, caught everyone except Piqué asleep, and Okriashvili tapped home.

Andres Iniesta slips away from Georgia's Giorgi Chanturia
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Andres Iniesta slips away from Georgia's Giorgi ChanturiaGERARD JULIENAFP

At half-time, on the radio show Carrusel, we asked for the introduction of Iniesta and Silva. Cesc and Thiago had not given any rhythm to the team. Iniesta came on after the break; Silva a while later. Of course, everything changed. Especially with Iniesta, who once again taught his lesson. He is phenomenal, both physically and with his clarity of thought; his game that integrates slipping into space, dribbling, passing, supporting. Nolito had finally found someone with whom he could work with. He, along with Iniesta and Jordi Alba, combined well on that side. Silva then completed the upgrade. As always, he did everything well. And that included the cross-field passes to Jordi Alba replicating those of Messi at Barça (one of which almost created a goal).

But a goal never came. The chance was missed. The team struggled to find Aduriz, as has happened so fatally before with other number nines. Being the centre forward for this team is a tough role to play. The second half saw the side push more, now with a thirst for the win, dominating the game, and more harmonious as a team. But Georgia defended resolutely, getting their bodies in the way, and they resisted the pressure. They also survived a possible penalty claim in the play which saw Busquets clattered into, resulting in a serious head wound. The fact is that even with seven minutes of injury time the goal couldn’t come. Disappointing, yes, but I don’t see it as symptomatic of anything serious. Maybe just some regret of time wasted.