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The best and worst of Spain after the group stage of the World Cup

Tremendous reality slap the one that Spain took in ethe World Cup in Qatar. After a spectacular staging with an incredible 7-0 against Costa Rica, many saw themselves as World Champions. It usually happens in our country. The reality after the matches against Germany and Japan is that they will have to sweat blood in the round of 16 to topple Morocco, a team that has only conceded one goal and it was an own goal.

Spain has many virtues. We are a team that has a very marked DNA, with well-worked mechanisms such as the suffocating pressure after loss, where the rival is studied in detail to know how to get a hand on them -against Costa Rica and Germany, the full-backs were low during the construction phase to attract the rival attackers and thus generate spaces- , a lot of mobility and speed of circulation… a squad that knows what they are playing, very worked and recognizable. Undoubtedly merit of the coach who has assembled a team in his image and likeness.

One aspect that is undoubtedly worth noting is that of the Rodri’s irruption. The center of defense was one of the headaches of a team in which two of the three pure central defenders that Lucho took (Eric García and Pau Torres, as well as Laporte) do not stand out precisely for their forcefulness in the mark. The conversion of the Manchester City player has given us consistency in the center of the rear.

Don Alvaro Morata. Who would have thought, but there it is. Alvarito grows with the national team and his eye for goals – three goals in three games and he shares the current top scorer in the World Cup with Mbappé, Rashford, Gapko and Enner Valencia – has been one of the best news for Spain in the World Cup. We will lack other things, but for the moment the goal with Morata is guaranteed.

Another positive thing is the pass to round of 16. Top-level teams like Belgium or Germany have gone home at the first exchange. Spain continues ahead in Qatar and, as fate would have it, after the defeat against Japan, they do so on the side of the most affordable team (give me Morocco and Portugal before Croatia and Brazil).

Many positive aspects of a team that at times (against Costa Rica, the first half against Germany and until it takes the lead against Japan) signed the best game of the World Cup.

On the other side of the scale we have some negative aspects. It already happened to us against Germany, but we saw it again against Japan. The changes do not contribute what they should. What’s more, until now they are subtracting. A very negative aspect that is linked to another. There is no alternate plan. Spain has no plan B. If the rival, as happened with Japan, catches your license plate and knows how to counteract your possession game, you come down. The second half against the Japanese was very bad. They come back to you in five minutes and then you are unable to even tickle them. Horizontal passes that did not generate a single clear goal chance, only two shots on goal, the team very static -everyone asks for it at the foot-, creativity is lacking in the last meters and overflowing.

Busquets, the withdrawal and a team that suffers without the ball. Sergio is Luis Enrique’s flagship. A key player in the engine room. He is the anchor that he must support a team against physical rivals and if they take the ball from you, he suffers horrors. Withdrawal is another of the negative aspects. Japan took our colors with a manual counter in the second goal. Can Spain be world champion with Busquets at the controls? I’m sorry, but I highly doubt it. The alternative to the Barcelona captain is a Rodri who is a mainstay as a central defender. We have a problem in the engine room and I don’t know if the Asturian commander will find a solution.

minutes in which players who are watching the World Cup from the sofa at home were greatly missed What Borja Iglesias -After changing Morata, not a single Spanish player was capable of attacking the area, with which the lateral centers made no sense- Iago Aspas -his ability to overflow in one against one would have given us a lot- or a channels who, in the face of close matches, has the key to his magic under his arm to open the most difficult rival locks. Another player who was missing was Gayá. Baldé is very good and has a huge future, but the man from Valencia is the most complete full-back in Spanish football today. Neither Jordi Alba nor Baldé have their defensive security.

The pigheadedness It is another aspect that I would highlight as very negative. It was announced in advance. One day Unai Simón and the coach’s determination to never hit a single ball will upset us. It is very good to get the ball played from behind, but there are moments in which nothing has to happen to send a melon to the opposite field. The rivals also study us and when a ball is given to the Athletic goalkeeper, the rival team exerts brutal pressure on our release of the ball that can cause us some displeasure as happened in the first Japanese goal. Luis Enrique is not going to change, so there will be times when he will have to grit his teeth and pray.

With many very positive things and others that need to be improved, although some will not change. This is how Spain reaches the round of 16. Morocco will be our rival.

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