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EL CLÁSICO BARCELONA - REAL MADRID

Not enough luck, too much Cristiano Ronaldo

So then, a draw, at the end of an incredible Portugal - Spain match at the World Cup with both teams ahead on the scoreboard at times. It’s not a bad result, and brings some clear positives: firstly, the group hasn’t been drastically affected by the week’s developments, which would be best forgotten; secondly, we won’t face Cristiano Ronaldo again until the final, if things go that way. Because he’s a properly difficult rival. He opened the scoring with a penalty he created, and of course took himself; he made it 1-2 with a shot from distance that went through De Gea’s buttery fingers; and he levelled the match at 3-3 with a free-kick he’d won, which he placed in the top corner. On top of that, he stirred his team up and drove into the spaces with scientific precision. What a performance.

Spain played well against Portugal

The only reason Spain didn’t win this match, which they played well in, was because they were facing a player of the calibre of Ronaldo (and because of their fumbling keeper on the night at the back). They got level after the opening goal, right at the start, and again from 2-1 down just before half-time. They played neatly, dominating possession, above all down the left, and could count on a stand-out number 9, Diego Costa, who finally produced the game we’d all dreamed of for Spain. His first goal was outstanding, the second a poacher’s delight. And he moved fluidly across all the danger zones. He went off, spent, to applause. It’ll be hard to deny him a place in the starting lineup now.

Spain are out of their trance

But Diego Costa wasn’t the only player to have a good night. All Spain’s players were decent, some better than others, true, but all good in their roles, controlling the ball and the match, driving Portugal mad as they chased shadows. Nacho, the only player who isn’t a definite starter, took control of his side of the pitch and scored a legendary goal. Isco looks better every time he plays for Spain, where his abilities are more effective than with Madrid. Spain didn’t win, but they put the doubts to rest, recovered their peace of mind and resolved the doubts over their number 9. It’s not three points, just the one, but the group has shaken itself out of the trance it found itself in.