Ukraine, and fans, welcome Spain
In Spain they say that on Tuesday 13th you don't get married and you don't board a ship. That was a much-repeated saying when I was a lad, but it said nothing of the Spanish national team so there's no need to worry about them playing today. I hope not much, for the game itself. It was a decent start with the draw in Germany, and has continued well with victory over Switzerland, and it need not get more complicated today in Kiev, a place where our captain, Sergio Ramos, has lifted two European titles, one with Madrid and the other with La Roja. With Ramos we can compensate for any superstitious beliefs that may be felt in the country.
15,000 fans for Spain
Another statistic that can be looked at favourably is the problem the opponent has in goal, where their fourth choice, the madridista Lunin plays due to call offs by others because of the coronavirus. In spite of this, colleagues who have been posted there say that they have been surprised by the lack of fear of the pandemic. No masks are seen on the streets and today 15,000 spectators will take to the stands. Perhaps this country, half at war with Russia, has no headspace to worry about anything else. Or it could be that because it is a country with relatively few visitors - due to the current instability that makes it an unappealing location for business or holidays - they feel safer from the virus.
Goals cannot be coached
Their goalkeeper issue reduces the concern over what we lack ourselves: goals. Looking closely at him, I see similarities between Luis Enrique and Zidane: both with a team built from the seven positions that sit behind, with slight tweaks based on the game, and a dice throw for those ahead of them. More so than Zidane, who at least has Benzema fixed, Luis Enrique has no go-to option and is therefore pondering, they tell me, the possibility of trying out a deep nine (Ferran played here for a while against Switzerland and is most likely) but this could be difficult. The manager can put everything together (tactics, teamwork, effort) but cannot magic up a goal, something you either have or not. That's why it's strange that Iago Aspas stayed in Vigo.
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