Germany 1-1 Spain: La Roja return home happy
Spain will be happy, if not getting carried away, with their night's work. La Roja earned a commendable draw with Germany in Düsseldorf; that is, in the back yard of the world champions, Fifa's top-ranked side, the bookies' favourites to go all the way in Russia. Let's put it this way: the Germans were by no means any better than Julen Lopetegui's men, although they did have us pinned back on the odd occasion and put David de Gea to the test in the visiting goal, forcing him into two particularly good saves that certainly had a bearing on the result. But there were also moments of alarm at the other end, as Spain went close to breaching Marc-André ter Stegen's goalmouth for a second time. Either way, it was the Spaniards, who for almost the entire first half gave an exhibition of their trademark high pressing and precision passing, that played the game's best stuff.
Spain score early, Müller pops up in 'Busquets territory' to level
Spain were without Sergio Busquets, so his role went to Thiago, who got every move started in supremely tidy fashion. From there, you know the rest: Andrés Iniesta, Isco and David Silva weaving the passes together, until the killer ball presents itself. The breakthrough came early, Iniesta threading through an inch-perfect pass for Rodrigo Moreno, a striker who's on fire, to score. After that, they continued in the same vein, but, as is often the case, were sluggish about going for the jugular. Meanwhile, Germany were a threat down the left, where Dani Carvajal was routinely finding himself facing two-on-ones. The hosts weren't totally convincing, but still posed the kind of creeping danger that carries their hallmark, and it bore fruit when Thomas Müller fired in powerfully from where Busquets would usually be. The goal wouldn't have happened had he been there, I felt.
Lopetegui switches things up with Lucas, Asensio and Costa
Germany then had the better of the second half, though hardly by a wide margin, it must be said. First Iniesta made way, then Isco, as, substitution by substitution, Lopetegui was compelled to alter the complexion of his side. What he ended up with was a formula of less subtlety, but one that could well prove quicker and and more forceful - a set-up which, I imagine, the Spain coach has in mind for tight affairs: Lucas Vázquez and Marco Asensio on the wings, Diego Costa leading the line in attack. With this approach in place, it's fair to say that Spain finished the game well and even threatened to win it. All in all, then, it was a friendly that left us with plenty of cause for optimism, a clash that gave us a chance to try different formulas, and showed beyond doubt that, in Rodrigo, Lopetegui has a footballer who's staking as great a centre-forward claim as anyone out there.
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