One step away from returning to the top, Spain fell short. The final weight of Benzema and Mbappé was blunt. The stars appeared and the Red one, firm and not at all brittle until then, no longer resisted. A Spain without similarity and mbappés, but coral and well structured. A selection with a journey that should come out stronger in this League of Nations in which it overwhelmed Germany, derailed Italy and had France within reach. Now, to row to discuss again with the elite in the near World Cup in Qatar.
Unai Simón, Laporte, Marcos Alonso, Eric Garcia, Azpilicueta, Busquets, Rodrigo (Fornals, min. 83), Pablo Páez Gavira (Koke, min. 74), Sarabia (Yeremy Pino, min. 60), Ferrán Torres (Merino, min. 83) and Oyarzabal
Lloris, Koundé, Varane (Dayotchanculle Upamecano, min. 42), Kimpembe, Aurelien Tchouameni, Pogba, Benjamin Pavard (Dubois, min. 79), Theo Hernández, Benzema, Kylian Mbappe y Griezmann (Veretout, min. 91)
Goals 1-0 min. 63: Oyarzabal. 1-1 min. 65: Benzema. 1-2 min. 79: Kylian Mbappe.
Yellow cards Pogba (min. 45), Koundé (min. 54), Laporte (min. 85) and Kylian Mbappe (min. 88)
Until after the hour, a very blocked game went on. Much, much containment. All with fear of error, without audacity. There was no one who was encouraged to do any wrongdoing. So many duels lost the inconsequential initial Mbappé against Eric or Laporte as the first Oyarzabal against Deschamps centrals, for example. Spain flowed from the trench with many subordinate countries, but did not warn in the last sector, Sarabia failed and Ferran imprecise, this time extreme. The Gallic rear was made of marble. Its lining does not give it away, but Gavi, starting again, also hits like a concrete mixer, the same thing that he came across the Herculean Pogba and Tchouaméni.
A Benzema maneuver at five minutes, which left Unai Simón on all fours but did not require Mbappé to assist, was a mirage. Not a shiver at the door in the entire first act. A silent duel, anesthetized, one and the other bridled. France, armored with its exuberant physical might. It’s hard to believe the isolation of Mbappé and Benzema for so many minutes. Their comrades do not give them the due thread. Not even Griezmann, located behind him, in his favorite position. Busquets, the Busquets of the selection, closed the step to him to the time that marked the hour in the Spanish game. A whole chair, for its sense of remove and for its harmonious conception of the game.
France, except in trouble like against Belgium, has another vein, the one that makes muscle prevail. Solid soccer. To counteract it, Luis Enrique required Rodri along with Busquets to the detriment of Koke, lighter for the planned pulses. Spain competed, but without fire, cautious about the possibility that Mbappé would release the kite. Or the enlightened Benzema will light up.
Around Busquets another Spain broke in after the break. Greater governance. Another march. When Luis Enrique’s team was better articulated, with France only occupied with the custody of the adversary, the storm unleashed. In just five minutes the game was blown up. From the brake to vertigo. A coastal play by Benzema led to a whiplash by Theo against Unai’s crossbar. In a blink of an eye, Busquets headed for Oyarzabal. The Basque beat Upamecano in hand-to-hand combat – he carried the injured Varane before intermission – and slammed the ball into the net with a cross shot.
There wasn’t time for much confetti. And those that were there distracted the Spaniards in such a way that after the goal kick, Benzema did Benzema. From a corner of the area he plugged in his privileged telescope, loaded his right leg and adjusted a warped shot to Unai’s left square, in flight without success. A great goal. A signature goal from Benzema. Without a sigh for celebrations or regrets, Mbappé appeared on the run, with that Jamaican start that distinguishes him. Unai, far from home, conceded the shot above his neck. But the famous PSG player was not clinical. Yes, I would be later.
At a disadvantage, as in the semi-final, France was released. In other words, Benzema and Mbappé. The team waits too long for them or they delay. But activated, the Deschamps set is another. With the game open, a confusing play ended at 1-2. Theo took off Mbappé, who seemed to go offside. It happens that Eric touched the ball lightly, which would enable the French, according to the referee’s interpretation. An absurdity, no matter how much regulation they secretly manipulate. Neither VAR nor bagpipes. Everything every day more confused and confused. Mbappé dodged Unai and the casserole.
Spain did not evaporate, tenacious until the end, already with all the load and exposed to the supersonic Mbappé. The French and the Red threatened to bare chest in a frenzied clash in the last stage. Spain lacked aim, he had plenty of Lloris, crucial before the shots of Oyarzabal and Pino, and perhaps he felt nostalgia for some nine with the nature of nine. That position was joined by Unai Simón, launched on the attack in the last plays. There was no remedy and Spain, a good Spain, succumbed to the hooks of Benzema and Mbappé. Just what the Red does not always have: the mallet. What distinguishes France, no matter how hard it may be to shed its more conservative version.