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Spain 3-1 Kosovo: Pedri, Unai Simón, Sergio Ramos...


Spain took seven points from nine from international week - not a bad return, but it could have been better. What’s concerning is that in none of the three games were they truly convincing. Against Kosovo yesterday, the hope had been that they would go out and register a really dominant win, but that didn’t happen. They did no more than get the job done, thanks to two goals in a short space of time in the first half: the first a sublime curling effort by Dani Olmo that was right in the top corner, the second an angled drive in off the far post that reminded me of goals scored by Jairzinho - a specialist in that kind of shot - at Mexico '70.

Kosovo usually ship goals against top opposition - but not last night

Kosovo are a poor side, particularly at the back, although they do have some interesting players in attack. They get results against weaker opposition thanks to the latter, but tend to be cannon fodder against top nations because of the former. That wasn’t the case yesterday, though. Against an often disorganised five-man defence, Spain failed to play with enough pace or imagination. This led to a relatively meagre 2-0 scoreline at half time, and a second 45 that was an insipid 1-1 draw, Unai Simón stupidly gifting the Kosovans a goal and Gerard Moreno making the most of his time on the field to score from a corner. Once again, the best thing about Spain was the left-hand side; particularly Pedri, who has settled into the team nicely.

The night's two black marks: Simón and Ramos

There were two major black marks on the night. Firstly, the goal Simón gave away through over-confidence with ball at feet. It’s odd: over the past few days we’ve regularly seen him opt to punch when he could easily have caught it, as if he feels insecure about his handling - yet, when he should have just booted it, he took a risk like that on a foray outside his area. And then there’s Sergio Ramos. He’s picked up two more caps after playing half of one game and a tiny bit of another, leaving the distasteful impression that Luis Enrique has included an unfit player in his squad for three important games just to do him a favour. It seems to be fairly clear that’s what’s happened, and the Spain coach will have a job persuading people otherwise.