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Fifa World Cup 2018

Spain 3-0 Albania World Cup 2018: match report, goals, action


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Spain's players celebrate Spain's midfielder Isco's (C) goal during the World Cup 2018 qualifier football match Spain vs Albania at the Jose Rico Perez stadium in Alicante on October 6, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / JOSE JORDAN
JOSE JORDANAFP

Spain 3-0 Albania: match report

Spain can officially start to looking for accommodation in Russia for the summer of 2018 after putting paid to Albania with an emphatic first half display. Despite the controversy surrounding the game, the team and various members of the squad and their political views in the build-up, Spain looked as well-drilled and incisive as ever in the game that finally sent them on their way to the World Cup.

Julen Lopetegui opted for Rodrigo to lead the line following an impressive start to the league season with his club. He has scored four in seven games for Valencia so far and it took him just 16 minutes to open his account for Spain.

He took down a chipped Isco pass in the box, and sent it back across his body on the half volley. It was unorthodox but effective and caught Etrit Berisha off guard in Albania's goal.

Just eight minutes later and Isco had made it two. A lovely move involving Piqué,Silva, the mightily impressive debutant Odriozola, Koke and finally Isco as he drove to the roof of the net.

Thiago drove a header to the back of the net from Odriozola's perfect cross and Spain had not one but two feet in Russia. There was no looking back from a three-goal lead with Spain playing such attacking and convincing football.

The second half involved chances for Spain but they failed to truly convince that they weren't content with the lead. Rodrigo came close twice and might have done better as he snapped at his two chances set up nicely by Silva and Koke.

The biggest news from a far tamer second half was Piqué, the figure at the centre of debate in Spain at the moment, was booked and will miss the trip to Isreal on Monday.

Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Alvaro Morata were all missing from Lopetegui's starting team but this game proved that those knocking on the door can both get them to Russia and will be capable of some fireworks if given the chance once they're there.

Spain vs Albania live stream online: latest news

Spain vs Albania live stream online: match preview

Albania lie six points behind Italy in Group G and would require a car crash on the part of the Azzurri and a glut of goals to sneak into second place but Spain, who are already guaranteed at least second place, can seal their place in Russia with victory over Christian Panucci’s side if Italy fail to defeat Macedonia in Turin.

If both Italy and Spain win their matches on Friday then Lopetegui’s side would require a draw away at Israel next Monday to ensure top spot and automatic qualification.

Spain

The run-up to the match has been overshadowed by last weekend’s events in Catalonia and the subsequent media obsession with Gerard Piqué’s stance on the referendum but the Barça defender did find time during his lengthy press conference on Wednesday to analyse Spain’s opponents: “They are a very complicated team, as they showed in qualifying for the last European Championships. They keep things tight very well at the back and can really damage you on the counter,” Piqué said. “It's been hard work getting to a situation where by beating Albania we'll be virtually qualified. So I think we have to focus on that and try to get the three points.”

Spain coach Lopetegui was forced into some late changes to his squad with the withdrawals of experienced heads Andrés Iniesta, Dani Carvajal and Álvaro Morata, calling up two uncapped players in Real Sociedad right-back Álvaro Odriozola and Las Palmas midfielder Jonathan Viera as well as veteran Athletic striker Aritz Aduriz.

The absence of the in-form Morata with a hamstring injury will be keenly felt, the Chelsea striker having scored four times in his last three games for Spain and even with the inclusion of the prolific Aduriz La Roja’s available forward line in Alicante scarcely screams goal-fest. Chelsea’s Pedro has 17 in 64 caps but has not found the net since May 2016 while Aduriz, Iago Aspas, Rodrigo and José Callejón have five between them.

Isco has been in incredible form for Real Madrid and will likely start behind whichever striker Lopetegui opts for if the Spain coach goes with a 4-2-3-1 as he did in the 2-0 victory in Shkodër a year ago, where La Roja enjoyed 71 percent of possession and had 13 shots on goal.

Albania

Albania have four wins from eight in qualifying but have not troubled the group’s bigger fish, their victories coming against Macedonia, Liechtenstein and Israel. However, as Piqué noted, The Eagles make their lair a difficult one to breach and boast huge experience at the back in the shape of captain Ansi Agolli, Hamburg centre half Mërgim Mavraj and Napoli right back Elseid Hysaj, who operate in front of experienced Atalanta keeper Etrit Berisha.

Panucci’s side have conceded just nine times in Group G but are hardly prolific at the other end, scoring just 10 and managing only four against Liechtenstein, who have leaked 34 overall.

However, Panucci is determined to put on a performance in Alicante before he takes his side back to Albania to host Italy.

“The matches against Spain and Italy are very important for the image of Albania. These two teams are stronger than us, but football tells us that even when you’re faced with the best, you can do something important. I want 11 lions on the pitch. We will try to get a result.”

Spain vs Albania live stream online: selected betting odds

Unsurprisingly Albania are rank outsiders in Alicante and chalked up at 50/1 to beat Spain, who will not be making anyone rich at odds of 1/14 with the draw priced at 14/1. In the first scorer stakes Isco is at 3/1 and Piqué, who it safe to assume would enjoy hitting the net immensely, is priced at 20/1.

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