The staff is still not involved in European work and they discuss much more still about the return of Carlo Ancelotti to Real Madrid or the marriage of convenience that Joan Laporta and Ronald Koeman maintain at Barça, but the rehearsal at the Wanda with public and against Portugal, current continental champion. As happened in the first phase of the World Cup in Russia, although then with a vibrant 3-3, and in the last preparation match that measured them in Lisbon, the Iberian duel ended in a draw. La Roja presented a good plan, was better to the points and wasted an impeccable attitude, a non-negotiable virtue with Luis Enrique, but once again his execution lacked the punch required at this level.
It was just a friendly but against a fierce rival, so it can be inferred that the eleven will not differ excessively from the one that will debut in the Eurocup, on Monday the 14th against Sweden at La Cartuja. There are more than justified doubts in various positions, especially because this team is young, little media and without great differences between starters and substitutes, and Luis Enrique offered interesting clues, although he continues to shuffle and distribute minutes.
To begin with, there had been much speculation about the possibility of another role change in goalkeepers, but the coach maintained his confidence in Unai Simón. The Vitorian has been a starter in the last seven matches for Spain despite his irregular season at Athletic and the rude failure in the last match against Kosovo for leaving the comfort zone and trying to show off with the ball at his feet, as for another part asks the technician. According to Opta data, Unai has made six mistakes this year that cost Athletic goals, a negative record in the five major European leagues. It does not convey security and is without confidence.
It was very clear in an isolated action of the first act. Gayá cleared badly and, instead of catching the ball because it was not a loan, Unai hit it and crashed it against Cristiano, who was passing by and was able to score with a carom. More disturbing his gestures, nodding for a long time, than the mistake of the goalkeeper itself. In the second half, he dared to make an incredible cutout in the small area. Lucho applauded him but he took away the hiccups from the classics.
Unai Simón, Marcos Llorente, Laporte (Diego Llorente, min. 79), Pau Torres (Eric García, min. 62), Gayà, Thiago (Pedri, min. 62), Busquets (Rodri, min. 62), Fabián (Koke , min. 75), Sarabia (Gerard Moreno, min. 75), Morata and Ferran Torres.
Rui Patricio, Semedo, Fonte, Pepe (William Carvalho, min. 59), Guerreiro (Bruno Mendes, min. 81), Oliveira (Bruno Fernandes, min. 59), Danilo, Renato (Rafa Silva, min. 70, Joao Félix (Pote, min. 46), Diogo Jota (Palinha, min. 70) and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Craig Pawson (England).
Preparation match for the European Championship played at the Metropolitano, before 14,743 spectators. Both countries staged their candidacy for the 2030 World Cup in the presence of King Felipe VI, accompanied by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic, Pedro Sánchez and the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa.
Marcos Llorente, the boy for everything due to his enormous physical display, beat Azpilicueta on the right side, a demarcation without a specialist for the Eurocup. He fulfilled back and only after the break did he dare to strike in attack, where he shines and unbalances much more. In the absence of Ramos and Iñigo Martínez, Laporte made his debut as a companion to the indisputable Pau Torres in the axis of the rear. It is strange to see two left-handers together in that demarcation, although they offered an outstanding level, and also the replacement in the left-handed lane of Jordi Alba for the benefit of Gayà, perhaps not to wear down a veteran with whom Luis Enrique has not maintained, precisely, an idyllic relationship.
As helmsman, Busquets was inconsequential but still ahead of Rodri, while Fabián surpassed Koke in the interior contest. In point, the substitution of Gerard Moreno, the best Spanish scorer of the season, was justified because he joined late after winning the Europa League with Villarreal. The coach insisted on Morata, who continues without correcting his tendency to fall offside, and the enlistment of Pablo Sarabia instead of Dani Olmo, fixed in previous appointments, drew attention. The PSG player, persistent and with the desire to ask for it and get into the game, was one of the best in Spain.
Spain came out with a good attitude and an interesting high pressure and came to enjoy a 75% possession of the ball in the first half phases. He neutralized the Portuguese, to the point that Cristiano complained to his coach about so much pitch, and Joao Félix didn’t even smell it. He only suffered in defense in that rebound caused by Unai and in a goal disallowed due to a clear lack of Fonte on Pau in a strategy action. However, the problem is that their territorial dominance was only translated once. Great center with the outside of Morata, a la Modric, and a bad header at the far post from Ferran.
The biggest ovation was taken by Luis Enrique after the restart, now without Joao Félix, for a magnificent ball control next to the bench. An unmistakable sign of the discreetness of the duel. The game was opened a little more and Morata wasted several times. First, after a great pass from Llorente, he finished without the required faith in a ram convinced of being able to break it in the European Championship. Sarabia also had it, after the versatile Atlético player stole Pepe’s wallet almost at the bottom line, but he was not right.
Cristiano finally appeared, but thank goodness he did not hit the head. The duel with the classic carousel of changes died, among them the two centrals – Laporte retired with discomfort – and the three players in the center of the field in Spain, a save by Rui Patricio from a ball combed by Ferran and a shot to the crossbar by Morata . It was not the night of the Madrilenian. As Cristiano would say, it was not won but you have to be ‘confident’.