International break: Spain

¡Viva España!
Jersey of the Spanish National Team” (CC by 4.0) by Stella Yodo

After dominating international football on a worldwide level for six years between 2008 and 2012, and winning back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and the 2010 World Cup in the process, the performances of La Furia Roja haven’t been as impressive over the past few years. The 2014 World Cup only lasted for three games in the group stage for the Spanish, while the Round of 16 was the end of the line for them during the 2016 Euro Cup.

By now the qualifiers for the 2018 World in Russia have begun, and Spain started as everyone expected: 4 games, 3 victories (against Liechtenstein, Albania and Macedonia) and 1 draw versus Italy. Both Southern European superpowers have 10 points at the moment, and the fight for first place in Group Q will be between them two. Spain currently leads by goal difference, having scored 15 so far, and conceding only one. If you like scoring for yourself then have check out best casino bonuses.

Spain – Macedonia
For the World Cup qualifiers Spain hosted Macedonia in Granada on November 12th. Beforehand, very few people expected any serious problems for La Furia here, and with reason. Macedonia had almost caused an upset in their previous match versus Italy and this thought gave them visible confidence. The visitors started in a compact formation, but without fear to venture out in attack from time to time. As a matter of fact, while Spain had the ball (as usual), the Macedonians had three fine opportunities from headers to go ahead in the first half.

The Spanish on the other hand didn’t panic from the lack of fluidity in their game at times, and ten minutes before half-time this paid off. Real Madrid rightback Carvajal produced a decent center into the Macedonian area and Velkovski clumsily headed it into his own net. Unfortunate and maybe even undeserved, but it counted just the same: Spain were leading at half time.

In the second half it looked like Spain was going to be content with a victory one way or another, while Macedonia couldn’t overcome the considerable difference in quality between the two teams. After a bit more than an hour the Sevilla energetic winger Vitolo promoted a fine centre by Man City midfield magician David Silva to a goal. In the final ten minutes Arsenal’s Monreal and Bilbao’s veteran striker Aduriz made it four for Spain, both goals being served up, again, by Carvajal. Fun fact: with his late strike Aduriz became the oldest player to score in the history of La Furia Roja.

England – Spain
Three days later Spain paid a visit to Wembley for a friendly against The Three Lions. The starting line-ups showed that the English took this fixture a bit more serious than the Spanish, who, in part because of injuries, turned up with a plenty of players that usually don’t start for the national team, such as striker Aduriz, defenders Nacho and Inigo Martinez, and goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Still a more than competitive team, though.

The English got off to a flying start, with Lallana greatful to convert a penalty in the 9th minute, provoked by his own wonderful through pass. Jamie Vardy had a party just after halftime to make it two with an excellent diving header, and it looked like England was going to have an easier night than expected. Between the 46th and the 65th Spain’s Lopetegui substituted five times, which included bringing in Madrid ace Isco and his team mate Morata. Once Southgate started changing players and tactics as well the game got a bit more chaotic, and it was the Spanish who dealt with it best. First, Morata provided the assist for a nice Aspas goal in the 89th, while a minute later Dani Carvajal enabled Isco to equalise not a minute later. It wasn’t Spain’s best performance of the year, but with the development and showcasing of players like Vitolo, Nacho and Aduriz it was an overall positive night.