Dani Olmo’s late extra-time goal against Georgia was a blessing which has put Spain back into a decent position in the World Cup qualifying group table. The draw at home has been erased with this victory, which, in truth, was a deserved one based on the second half showing.
Luis Enrique made changes to the team that drew against Greece but they struggled in the first half. That prompted the coach to change things up at halftime, most importantly replacing Bryan Gil with Dani Olmo.
It’s not that Gil was playing badly, but as he is an all-out winger, he doesn’t work well with Jordi Alba. Dani Olmo comes inside more and, between him, Pedri and Jordi Alba, created a lot of danger.
Georgia caught Spain by surprise
The first half was unfortunate. Luis Enrique was criticized before the game for saying that Greece was the best defensive display of his reign. Those comments were poorly timed. In the first half Georgia surprised us with their fast transitions that passed through the Spanish defensive framework like water through a sieve.
I had the impression that neither Luis Enrique nor his players “knew” this team, who surprised them. Full back Pedro Porro had a tricky debut against Kvicha Kvaratskelia, a top-class player, who showed a lot of fight and speed on the wing and scored the game’s opening goal with overwhelming confidence in the 43rd minute.
But the horror was amended at halftime. Changes aside, Spain came out with another spirit and when both teams play with equal enthusiasm, the better XI usually prevails. La Roja were commanding in the second half looking to play down the left and finish off on the right, which was how the first goal came and the second could have come before Dani Olmo’s stunning strike in the 92nd minute.
All of this, by the way, was orchestrated by 18-year-old Pedri, who was consistent in his game, successful in his decision-making, controlled the ball well and held the respect of his teammates. He is a truly great player.