Thursday, June 17, 2021

Spain 0-0 Portugal: 3 Key Talking Points From A Toothless Night In Madrid

Tom Dunstan in Editorial 5 Jun 2021

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Although we might have had a star-studded cast in Madrid on Friday night, both Spain and Portugal failed to gain much momentum as they put together their final preparations before heading into this summer’s European Championships.

With the two European heavyweights playing out a 0-0 stalemate when they previously faced off in another friendly contest back in October, 14,743 fans at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium had to settle for another uneventful night in the Spanish capital.

In a night that saw a host of missed chances for La Roja and whistles from the returning fans at the full-time whistle, we have taken a look at the three major talking points after a lacklustre night in the Spanish heat.

A night to forget for Morata

Steaming through in injury time and with the whole of the Wanda Metropolitano at his mercy, Alvaro Morata’s last-gasp miss almost epitomized what was a torrid night for the Juventus striker at his former home.

Despite signing off his domestic campaign with The Old Lady by bagging a brace against Bologna, the one-time Chelsea striker missed a host of chances in the second-half and certainly had a night to forget in Madrid.

With his strike in the 91st-minute rebounding off of Rui Patricio’s crossbar and ruining any chance of late redemption, Morata also fluffed his lines with two attempts after the ball fell kindly to him in the box.

The main target of the fans’ frustration at the final whistle and a small group of supporters even chanting, “Morata, how bad you are!”, questions will be asked as to why the red-hot Gerard Moreno wasn’t given the leading role up top.

Finding the net as Villarreal beat Manchester United in the Europa League final last week, the 29-year-old recorded 30 goals throughout the 2020/21 campaign.

Portugal lacks a punch

Opening up Friday’s meeting in Madrid with an attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix and Diogo Jota, many from across Europe have spoken about Portugal’s attacking options heading into the summer.

However, with Manchester United ace Bruno Fernandes having to settle for only a cameo appearance when coming off the bench with half an hour remaining, Fernando Santos’ side really failed to find any form in the final third.

Although Jose Gaya and Unai Simon’s near mix-up at the back might have caused a moment of panic, Portugal failed to land a single shot on target until Danilo Pereira’s header with the final touch of the game.

With Atletico star Felix really failing to make much of an impact before being dragged off at half-time, it was a similar story for Portugal’s poster boy.

Really struggling to get anything out of Spain’s defence after what has been another stellar campaign for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, the closest Ronaldo could come was with a glancing header that drifted harmlessly wide of Simon’s post.

Laporte makes his debut

With Spain boss Luis Enrique making the shock decision to leave out all Real Madrid players in his squad for this summer’s European Championships, that list also included veteran defender, Sergio Ramos.

Struggling with injury issues at Real Madrid this season, the Spain skipper had to watch on as Enrique handed a first international cap to Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte.

Despite making 51 appearances for France’s youth sides through from the U17’s to the U21’s, he was granted a Spanish citizenship recently, having never played a senior game for the reigning world champions.

Partnering Villereall’s Pau Torres at the heart of Spain’s defence in the capital, Laporte’s only minor scare came from a sliced clearance that he thankfully saw go out for a Portugal corner five minutes after the restart.

While the former Athletic Bilbao defender might have announced after Friday’s game that he asked to be substituted as a precaution on his international debut, it was a relatively straightforward night for the 27-year-old.

Match Report

Spain: Simon (6), Llorente (7), Laporte (7.5), Torres (7.5), Gaya (7), Thiago (7), Busquets (7.5), Ruiz (7), Sarabia (6.5), Morata (2.5), Torres (4.5),

Subs: E.Garcia (6), Koke (7), Moreno (6.5), D.Llorente (5), Pedri (7), Rodri (7),

Portugal: Patricio (7.5), Semedo (4.5), Pepe (5), Fonte (5), Guerreiro (5), Sanches (7), Danilo (6), Sergio Oliveira (5.5), Jota (5), Ronaldo (5), Felix (4)

Subs: Carvalho (5), B. Fernandes (5), Mendes (5), Palhinha (5), Goncalves (5), R. Silva (5)

Goals: N/A

Yellow Cards: N/A

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Craig Pawson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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