A case of wax and wane for Luis Enrique's Spain side
At the end of the game, former FC Barcelona team-mates Luis Enrique and Frank de Boer shared an affectionate 'fist-bump'. The draw was a decent result for Luis Enrique, less so for De Boer, but with the Netherlands trailing for the first half, the result was probably a fair one. The game itself won't go down in history with the main talking point being Sergio Ramos earning his 176th international cap, drawing level with Juve stopper Buffon with the keeper having already retired from the game at international level.
The Netherlands are from from the footballing power they used to be. Some years ago, Real Madrid signed a central defender called Metgod. One evening, the then Madrid coach Di Stéfano commented to his assistant: “Holland is back to what it once was...great milk, cheese and butter but lousy footballers”. Yesterday's game brought this observation back to me. The Dutch team is not what it once used to be, not before or after Metgod. There were flashes from Van de Beek and Dumfries and that really was it. Depay (on the Koeman Barça radar), it has to be said enjoyed a discreet evening in Amsterdam.
As for the Spain side, Luis Enrique selected a second string side and they acquitted themselves well, especially in the first half. It was alarming though to see some of the risks debutant keeper Unai Simón took and what was even more remarkable is that all his risks went unpunished. From his actions, Spain were able to launch quick counter attacks and the opening goal of the night came about in this way which was well finished by Real Betis' Sergio Canales. After a decent opening half, Spain made a series of substitutions in the second period which interrupted their progression and saw them lose the lead. The introduction of Adama failed to produce the spark that the Wolves player has delivered from the bench previously. A mixed evening for 'La Roja' and a game that somewhat epitomised Luis Enrique's tenure as Spain manager.
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