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La Rosaleda cheers on Asensio and Gavi


The boys performed nicely and, as they say, all’s well that ends well. After a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in a packed Rosaleda, Spain go on holiday as group leaders, because at the same time Portugal lost in Switzerland. Two wins, two draws, eight points; a remarkable result for these players, who have had to cover this season’s additional work while many of their clubmates were already frolicking on the beach. Some of them have struggled, for example Carvajal, who appeared to be in a slump after the ecstasy of the Champions League. Not so for Asensio, however, who has chosen to grab hold of the lifeline thrown by Luis Enrique. Nothing is certain, but he’s earned some valuable points.

Sunday’s game, being that it was the final one in this round, weighed heavier than the others. The Czechs came out playing surprisingly well, pressing high up the field and closing down at the back, and forcing two saves from Unai, the first after stealing the ball back, the other more familiar: a long ball that caught the centre-backs some distance from the attacker and pondering the fleeting nature of life. But out of somewhere during that period where Spain were inferior suddenly came a great pass from Koke that Asensio took down the wing, held it up and laid off for the slick arrival of Soler, who slotted home. The other goal would come late in the second half and the source for Sarabia’s finish was Gavi, both having been introduced in the latter stages.

Along with Unai, who held the scoreline goalless during those bad periods, Asensio and Gavi were the men of the match and as such were rewarded by the La Rosaleda fans: for one when he came on, the other when he went off. Asensio was involved in all of Spain’s dangerous moves in the first half, and reminded us of the exciting player he can be. Gavi was like a whirlwind, taking the ball away, driving forward, and then providing deliveries in, or getting himself into, the box. The light and speedy ‘allegro vivace’ that Luis Enrique proposes suits him better than the more pedestrian ‘andante’ of Xavi’s Barça. This explains why his contract renewal value is being discussed, but be aware: with just a 50 million release clause, this boy could be a great opportunity for many.


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