Wrapped in controversy and with Spain superior to France during long stretches of the match, the Nations League left for the French country. This is how the referee of the match wanted it, Anthony Taylor, who did not want to see neither Jules Koundé’s penalty by hand in the first half nor the clamorous offside of Kylian Mbappé in the final 1-2. Didier Deschamps’ selection survived when Mikel Oyarzabal punished Dayot Upamecano’s mistake, reacted to the Spanish goal through the imposing society formed by Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema and took the cat into the water in a second half of heart attack where the match was He left and the rhythm of occasions went crazy. Luis Enrique’s Spain leaves with its head very high in a tournament where it beat the European champion, Italy, and put the world champion on the ropes.
With the precautions typical of a final, Spain and France began measuring each other with caution. Without risking too much, playing wisely, combining with safety passes and guiding the ball out from the sides. Spain, armored with a double pivot formed by Sergio Busquets and Rodrigo Hernández, entered the game with intensity and concentration. Without doubting his departure from the ball, Luis Enrique told his team to be brave and not distort themselves. That’s why Eric García and Aymeric Laporte concatenated passes and took the ball clean from behind. With the Barça defender on Kylian Mbappé, the Frenchman did not come into play. Spain closely watched the French counterattacks and the Gauls felt the breath of the defenders on their backs.
Yes, Karim Benzema did it to star in the first occasion of the meeting in an uncheck to the space of the Real Madrid striker who ended up aborting César Azpilicueta in a loss in exit of the ball. His death pass after dribbling Unai Simón did not connect with any of his teammates and Spain breathed. The Chelsea player’s personality raised the bar on defense. Then, Luis Enrique’s plan put France in its place. With Ferran Torres and Pablo Sarabia wide open and fixing Theo Hernández and Pavard, the Spanish full-backs (Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso) progressed until they reached the rival field.
Ferran Torres was the best attacker
There Ferran Torres gained weight and depth. The Manchester City winger, more forward than a side player in the semi-final against Italy, faced Theo Hernández in one-on-one situations and sowed Deschamps’ head with doubts. So much so that he had to change Mbappé from the band before his null defensive aids and placed Benzema on the left. In return Spain was left without a reference within the area and with the feeling that it was missing a fang and bad drool to translate the arrivals in real danger.
In minute 30, a possible hand of Jules Koundé in the France area could change the fate of the match, but the referee rejected the maximum penalty. Little more happened until it came to rest. A lack of the notable Marcos Alonso who passed whispering the wood and the injury of a hesitant Varane who was replaced by Upamecano. On the way back from the changing rooms, both teams were no longer corseted and the match broke down. First Sarabia could not find either Oyarzabal or Ferran within the area after a recovery upstairs that went to limbo. Mbappé, after not giving signals throughout the first half, appeared in space and forced the intervention of Marcos Alonso.
Luis Enrique, in need of dynamite upstairs, retired Sarabia for Yéremi Pino. The canary was placed to the left, Oyarzabal continued in point and Ferran Torres, on the right wing. The world champion, for the first time in the match, would show her formidable offensive potential. On the counterattack, Mbappé and Benzema combined on the left wing, Karim crossed and Theo Hernández, who came in like a breath from the inside, crashed the ball on the crossbar. From 0-1 French would go to 1-0 Spanish. Busquets scanned the horizon, detected Oyarzabal’s race into space, the Basque left Upamecano with the cast and shot Lloris mercilessly at the far post. Spain would go ahead, but could not taste the joy.
France came out shot on the counterattack, Mbappé carried the ball towards Benzema and the white ‘9’ caressed the ball until it was placed in Unai Simón’s squad. Luis Enrique wanted to put the clothes back together and chose Koke to hang them. The mattress midfielder entered through the newcomer Gavi, but before the change took effect, Mbappé blew up the movement of the Spanish coach. Again with room to run behind the back of the defense in an advanced position, Mbappé dodged the exit of Unai Simón and traced the meeting.
Spain would try to put the tables again with the entry of Fornals and Merino by Rodri and Ferran Torres. And it was about when Mikel Oyarzabal hemmed a volley that was too centered and that Lloris cleared. With the timer against and Unai Simón coming up to finish off the last corner kick of the game, the ball fell at the feet of Yérimi Pino, but his auction ran into the success of Lloris again and the marker would no longer move. Spain is saddened by the defeat, but the performance offered in this Nations League is to be very proud of a team that knew how to match individual talent with a collective work and a fantastic tactical plan.