Spain runs into Greece on its way to Qatar



Four months later, the football gale with which Spain beat Germany to access the final phase of the League of Nations became predictable game with little arrival, to start with an unexpected stumble on the road to Qatar 2022, yielding a draw at Nuevo Los Cármenes to Greece in a clash marked by the decision of a strange penalty (1-1).

Íñigo Martínez felt an advantage in the dispute, convinced that the risk was less. He arrived before the rival to clear the ball in a game without any danger to the goal defended by Unai Simón. The inertia caused it to hit the rival and the unexpected decision of the Italian Marco Guida. The penalty was a punishment for Spain’s lack of football solutions on a bad night. From the maximum show to close 2020, to the uncertainty in the first appearance of 2021.

A flash full of quality had changed the course of a party to which Greece injected anesthesia to change the identity of Luis Enrique’s Spain. A second to think for Koke cost the Hellenic team dearly. Ball chopped into space and the appearance of a necessary figure if you want to remember times of recent success, that of a matador. Morata’s first appearance took 33 minutes to arrive, but it was lethal. Chest control and left-handed shot above without dropping the ball. The problem seemed solved.

The appointment did not allow to intuit suffering for its hopeful beginning. With intensity and a lot of mobility, high pressure and suffocating a rival who went from being the protagonist in his last games to being subjected with no other response than to defend himself. Luis Enrique confirmed the relay in goal in the eleven, with Unai Simón ahead of David de Gea.

The tastes of the coach are above the moments of the player on some occasions. It happens with Eric García, practically separated in Manchester City after refusing to renew and start with Spain due to the loss of Pau Torres. Between the two is the companion of Sergio Ramos in the Eurocup. There is no time to lose and few games to settle a couple that lasted a part because the captain is limping.

Dominance was not synonymous with good football because Spain got stuck after a good start. The second minute was not fulfilled when Dani Olmo headed without precision, finding the ball, to the center from the right side. And before the quarter of an hour Koke forgave a double chance, unable to overcome the defensive wall with his shots from the penalty spot.

There was no continuity to the game and Luis Enrique did not like the parsimony of his team. The game became predictable, without overflowing the sides, with sterile possession. Not a one-on-one by Ferran or Olmo, who woke everyone up with an individual action. His whip was repelled by the crossbar a minute before Koke invented the action of the goal.

But Spain lacked continuity and inspiration. A complex date, with the internationals playing a lot at their clubs. A qualifying match for a World Cup without having played the European Championship yet. Numerous changes in the return after four months of hiatus. Morata finished everything. From outside the area he shot to the side of the net. He wanted more in his desire to show that he deserves to be the undisputed 9 of the national team.

And when it seemed that Greece would not score even in two match days, with Marcos Llorente exhibiting physicality to stop any attempt to counter-attack, it came a decision of the referee that changed the course. Only from a set piece or due to an oversight could the Spanish team concede a goal. Iñigo Martínez, who had replaced Ramos at halftime, launched himself to clear the ball within his area and with inertia, after hitting the ball, it hit Masouras’s tibia. The penalty was transformed by Bakasetas.

A new scenario appeared, with Spain forced to generate more. And Luis Enrique resorted to the impudence of the youngest. Made Pedri debut, 18 years old, and I trust Brian Gil, of 20. The drawing of the party prevented the continuity of quality in Pedri’s association. Bryan gave the overflow that was missing, facing from the first ball he touched, generating imbalance but lacking precision at the key moment of the pass.

That success was lacking in the last meters. In a header from Morata, in Gayá’s decision to attend rather than shoot on the best occasion, without Oyarzabal reaching the auction. The truth is that Vlachodimos, Greek goalkeeper, was not required. Spain lacked imagination and faith. And Greece celebrated the tie as a feat at the home of the great. A Spanish team that went from ecstasy to doubt.

1 – Spain: Unai Simon; Marcos Llorente, Sergio Ramos (Íñigo Martínez, m.46), Eric García, Gayá; Rodri, Koke (Thiago, m.72), Canales (Bryan Gil, m.64); Dani Olmo (Pedri, m.64), Ferrán Torres (Oyarzabal, m.72) and Morata.

1 – Greece: Vlachodimos; Bakakis, Papadopoulos, Tzavellas, Tsimikas (Kiriakopoulos, m.80); Zeca, Bouchalakis, Mantalos (Tzolis, m.46); Limnios (Siopis, m.46), Masouras (Fourtunis, m.65) and Bakasetas (Giakoumakis, m.78).

Goals: 1-0, m.33: Morata. 1-1, m.56: Bakasetas, from a penalty.

Referee: Marco Guida (Italy). He admonished Íñigo Martínez (55) for Spain and Zeca (81) and Giakoumakis (83) for Greece.

Incidents: First qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup played at the Nuevo Los Cármenes stadium behind closed doors.

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