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Spain looking solid under Lopetegui


Mission accomplished. Three more points for Spain after last night's 4-1 win over Israel, with another 3 to add to the goal difference, which is now at +17, compared to Italy's +9. I point it out because if we finish level on points with Italy it'll be goal difference that counts, not the head to head. We could have scored more, hitting the post a couple of times, but then the Israeli keeper, Marciano, was well below par on two that did go in. Overall it was an easy game for Spain, in which they played well at times, and switched off at others. More and more it's Silva who pulls the strings for this side, close to the level of Iniesta himself, and last night Thiago started instead of Koke.

Thiago Alcantara on the ball.
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Thiago Alcantara on the ball.Juan Manuel Serrano ArceGetty Images

Spain started well against Israel

Spain got off to a fine start. Lopetegui had studied Israel, who close up more in the middle, leaving the wings vulnerable, and so Spain looked for Jordi Alba, who had a superb opening spell. Spain were playing at a fine tempo and looking solid too until the first goal arrived, when they relaxed a little. The change of Thiago for Koke brings more inventiveness up front, but takes away organisation and solidity, which is notable. In the first half Zahavi got into a shooting position three times, each wasted, and just before the break De Gea did well to stop a Refaelov header which would have put the scoreboard at 1-1. From the move following that Marciano gifted Vitolo his goal. Game over.

Marciano gets his hand to Vitolo's shot, but it goes right through it and in. 2-0 Spain.
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Marciano gets his hand to Vitolo's shot, but it goes right through it and in. 2-0 Spain.Alberto MoranteEFE

Spain's three changes

The game continued along the same lines in the second half, with Spain in control, with occasional lapses at the back. Lopetegui used his three changes, allowing us to see who he rates most in addition to those who started: Koke, Isco and Iago Aspas, who is ahead of Morata now. The game finished 4-1, a fair result, given how many chances Spain made, and the fair few they offered the Israelis. None of the six Spanish players who were a booking away from suspension picked up a card, meaning they will all be available for Macedonia on 11 June. And then after the summer we play Italy here, in what will be the group's decisive game.

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