On the eve of Wednesday’s meeting with Italy, Luis Enrique bragged that right now, his team is among the four best sides in Europe, based on facts such as they reached the semi-finals of both Euro 2020 and the Nations League. And now he has even more to boast about - his Spain side humiliated one of the strongest Italy sides of recent times in their own back yard - the reigning European champions, unbeaten in 37 games, a world record. Spain not only beat them, but beat them well even if the final result, 1-2, didn’t really do full justice to how it unfolded out on the pitch. Apart from the opening 10 minutes, when Spain had to ride out waves of pressure from Italy, Luis Enrique spent the rest of the contest dominating both the ball and the game.
Ferran Torres finishes the job
Spain started to make inroads on Marcos Alonso’s wing; his relaxed, precise style gave them a way past their opponents. Both goals came from that side of the pitch, both before half-time, both engineered by the Chelsea player, both from an inch perfect Oyarzabal ball in from the left flank (Sarabia and Marcos combined with Mikel for the second) and finished off by Ferran Torres. He’s a player with a real feel for goals, he began as a winger but has successfully reinvented himself as a deep-lying centre-forward, lying in wait to run into empty spaces and put the ball away either with his feet or with a header. He’s steadily racking up goals, providing a solution to a team which had previously struggled to score goals.
Yeremy and Gavi
Shortly before half-time, Bonucci was sent off after his second booking. The second half was calmer, and only complicated briefly when Spain lost possession from a corner and were hit on the break as Italy pulled one back. But it was Spain who looked most like scoring. Yeremy Pino set up chances for Oyarzabal and Marcos Alonso, which somehow didn’t enter. Yeremy had come on after the break and had a brilliant debut. Even better was Gavi, who was in the starting line-up, beating Zubieta’s record to become the youngest player to debut with the national team. He enjoyed a good game, looked strong and fitted into the side incredibly well considering his young age. I see him as a player with a great future ahead of him, capable of anything in any situation. That was another thing which Luis Enrique got spot on.