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Three reasons why Spain lost to England

Avik Roy
692   //    16 Oct 2018, 11:10 IST

Spain v England - UEFA Nations League A
Spain v England - UEFA Nations League A

England pulled off a huge upset by beating Spain 3-2 in a crucial clash of UEFA Nations League at the Benito Villamarin in Seville on Monday. Spain have lost their first competitive game at home after 15 years.

Spain would have qualified for Nations League semi-finals with just a win. But their undefeated run under new coach Luis Enrique came to halt with a sumptuous display from Gareth Southgate’s boys.

Spain have lost for the second time at Seville, playing their 14th match. This is also for the first time Spain were down to three goals at the end of halftime at home.

England, who were a bit sloppy and couldn’t utilize their chances in the previous match against Croatia, came out all guns blazing within just three days. The first goal came in the 18th minute and it all started with a nice pass from goal-keeper Jordan Pickford. Marcus Rashford got the ball in the midfield and calmly passed it to Raheem Sterling, who outplayed David de Gea with a powerful shot. It was Sterling’s first goal three years. He had last scored against Estonia in a Euro Cup qualifier in 2015.

England got their second soon after, this time the provider was Harry Kane, who hasn’t found the scoresheet but was brilliant in the evening. Rashford, who missed two glorious chances against Croatia, did well to receive with his first and superbly finished it with his second. Sterling again got his name on the scoreline when Ross Barkley’s brilliant lofted ball found Kane, who beat the offside trap to pass unselfishly to Sterling, the latter had to only poke the ball home.

Paco Alcacer reduced the deficit immediately after coming off the bench in the second half, and Sergio Ramos got another injury-time goal to his name, but it was not enough for La Roja to avoid a defeat in their lucky ground.

Let us look at the three reasons behind Spain’s capitulation:

Spanish defense in disarray

Spain v England - UEFA Nations League A
Spain v England - UEFA Nations League A

Spain have remained untested in their defensive solidity due their experienced midfield and solid attacking line-up. But in front of counter-attacks, they crumble. That is what happened against England. Despite having 70 percent ball possession, Spanish defenders may have been over-confident and left their doors open. England intelligently used the opportunity and killed the game in the first half itself.

The constant flip-flopping with defenders is not working for Luis Enrique, who needs to find a perfect combination in the central defensive role. Gerard Pique left a huge void in the central defense after his retirement. Though Nacho filled his place, he is not a regular starter for Real Madrid and lacks game time. Enrique should look to try Cesar Azpiliqueta or Marc Bartra before opting for a permanent solution.

On Monday, Ramos allowed too much space for English players. During the third goal, Sterling was left unmarked as the linesman has turned down Spanish players’ repeated appeal for an off-side. Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Jonny Otto was handed a first-team debut by Enrique but he failed to impress. Jordi Alba is lethal as left-back as Enrique shouldn’t think much and bring him back in the starting line-up.

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