Spain V Costa Rica In Pictures
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Spain ensured they capitalise on Germany’s shock defeat to Japan earlier in the day with an emphatic victory over Costa Rica on Wednesday night. Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata struck, with Ferran Torres netting a brace at the Al Thumama Stadium, to give their side all three points. Express Sport will now take a look at five things we learned from the showdown.
Pedri is the real deal
While Gavi and Sergio Busquets also produced midfield masterclasses, with the former scoring, Pedri was certainly a cut above the rest during his time on the field.
This is the 19-year-old’s first major tournament and it’s clear he’s relishing the opportunity to play on the biggest stage of them all, with the teenager outstanding as his side cruised to victory.
Pedri was at the heart of everything good about Spain’s performance, helping to dictate play in the middle of the park – with Costa Rica unable to contain him.
Given his age, it’s clear he has a bright future. Whisper it quietly but, based on this performance, he looks like a future Ballon d’Or winner in the making.
Barcelona know this, which is why their academy graduate has a release clause of a huge £946million. Nobody, not even the Manchester Citys and PSGs of this world, can afford that.
Keylor Navas is finished
At the 2014 World Cup, Keylor Navas shot to prominence.
He was so good that he put himself in the sights of Real Madrid, where he would go on to win 12 trophies including three Champions Leagues, four Club World Cups and three UEFA European Super Cups.
These days, Navas plays for PSG. Or, rather, spends his time warming the bench while Gianluigi Donnarumma starts instead.
The veteran is yet to make a single appearance so far this season and showed his age for Asensio’s goal. A younger goalkeeper would, potentially, have been able to parry the ball to safety.
Navas’ days at the top appear to be numbered and retirement, surely, can’t be too far away. After shipping seven tonight, carrying on is a tall order.
No striker, no problem
When Spain were the dominant force in world football, they often relied on Fernando Torres and David Villa to plunder in the goals up top.
These days, they lack that sort of figure in their side. Asensio, who started down the middle in the absence of Alvaro Morata, is more of a winger than a No 9.
But that was no problem for Spain and it’s possible they can manage a repeat of Euro 2012.
For the majority of that tournament they played without a proper forward, with Cesc Fabregas actually deployed as a false nine at the tip of their attack.
If anyone can win a football competition, without an established marksman, it’s La Roja. Even though Morata came on, they look just as good without him as they do when he’s on the field.
Spain benefitting after 2018 chaos
The last World Cup was a chaotic one for Spain.
They sacked Julen Lopetegui, who had been brought in as a replacement for Luis Enrique following his decision to step down for personal reasons, with Fernando Hierro then coming in.
It meant Spain were a mess and, though they made it out of the group stages, they exited the competition after losing to Russia on penalties in the last 16.
This time around, however, they look a far happier camp.
Enrique brings order, attacking football and animation on the touchline. All three things were missed four years ago and Spain seem to be a team hellbent on making amends. Their blitzing tonight, without doubt, is a step in the right direction.
Japan sprung one of the biggest surprises of the tournament by beating Germany 2-1 earlier in the day.
And Hansi Flick’s side will no doubt have been watching Spain feeling fearful given how they dominated proceedings from the first minute to the last.
Germany do, of course, have players capable of hurting Spain.
But the way La Roja controlled the game, without putting a foot wrong, means it’s possible Flick’s team will soon be out of the competition.
They’ll need Costa Rica to do them a favour against Japan yet that looks unlikely to happen given how dire they were in defeat. s like a future Ballon d’Or winner in the making.
Barcelona know this, which is why their academy graduate has a release clause of a huge £946million. Nobody, not even the Manchester City’s and PSG’s of this world, can afford that.
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