Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Spain 4-1 Georgia: Talking points as La Roja breeze past Georgia to set up Euro quarterfinal blockbuster

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Having gone down to an 18th-minute own-goal from Robin Le Normand, Spain scored four to beat Georgia in the round of 16 at the Euros and set the stage for a showdown with Germany in the quarterfinals. Rodri (39′), Fabian Ruiz (51′), Nico Williams (75′) and substitute Dani Olmo (83′) were all on the scoresheet.

The game took place on Sunday evening at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne.

The teams

Spain boss Luis de la Fuente paired Robin Le Normand with Aymeric Laporte in the heart of defence, in front of Unai Simon in goal, with Dani Carvajal on the right and Marc Cucurella on the left. Rodri anchored the midfield, with Pedri and Fabian Ruiz there as well. Upfront, Alvaro Morata was flanked by Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams.

Meanwhile, Georgia coach Willy Sagnol went with five players forming a line ahead of Giorgi Mamardashvili in goal – Lasha Dvali, Guram Kashia and Giorgi Gvelesiani were the three centre-backs, flanked by Luka Lochoshvili on the left and Otar Kakabadze. Otar Kiteishvili, Giorgi Kochorashvili and Giorgi Chakvetadze formed the three-man midfield, while Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Georges Mikautadze paired up in attack.

The game

Spain expectedly dominated possession from the first whistle and attacked. The ball spent plenty of time in and around the Georgia box, and after 10 minutes, Mamadarshvili made a top-class save to deny a close-range header from Dani Carvajal.

But in the 18th minute, Georgia shockingly took the lead from what was practically their first attempt to threaten Simon’s goal. They sprang a quick move down the left, and Le Normand reacted clumsily to a cross under pressure from Kvaratskhelia to beat his own goalkeeper.

Spain weren’t put off by this moment of bad luck and with just over five minutes left of the first half, they got a deserved equalizer, though in an arguably controversial fashion. Their attack was just starting when Kiteishvili went down on the edge of the box, clutching his hamstring. The rest of the Georgia team wanted their opponents to kick the ball out so their midfielder could receive treatment, but Spain saw that as sign to charge forward instead.

Kiteishvili got up and tried to play on, but his limp was notable as La Roja played around him with ease, and eventually Rodri fired accurately from just outside the box, hitting the bottom corner. Furthermore, when the ball reached the Manchester City midfielder, Morata was obstructing Mamadarshvili’s view from an offside position, but the Atletico Madrid striker moved out of the way a split-second before Rodri’s shot. The VAR briefly checked the situation and the goal was confirmed, before the unhappy Kiteishvili limped off the pitch to be replaced by Sandro Altunashvili.

The Valencia keeper had several more chances to show his quality, denying Cucurella from long range as well as a tricky shot by Nico Williams in the first half, and the teams went to the break with the score standing at 1-1.

Less that two minutes into the second half, Georgia came close to shocking their opponents again as Kvaratskhelia tried to catch Simon off his line from 50 yards, but his shot went wide.

With Dani Olmo on the pitch instead of Pedri, Spain were now playing with a No.10 behind Morata. They continued their relentless attacking and with just over 50 minutes gone, they were ahead. Mamadarshvili did well to save Yamal’s free-kick from the edge of the box, but Morata was able to pick the ball up and restart his team’s move, and there was nothing the Valencia goalkeeper could’ve done to save his team as Yamal’s cross found Fabian Ruiz unmarked at three or four yards from goal.

The game could’ve been settled in the 63rd minute when Kochorashvili lost his bearing and gave the ball to Yamal on the edge of his own box, but the young Barcelona winger fired around a yard wide of the post.

Spain, however, got their third goal through the brilliance of Pedri and Williams in the 75th minute. Their defenders stopped a Georgian attack on the edge of their box and gave the ball to Pedri, who released a fantastic long-range pass to the left wing for Williams to chase. Williams then burst into the box, and having beaten his man one-on-one, fired under the crossbar with Mamadarshvili unable to do anything about it.

Olmo and Yamal wasted a couple of good chances in the period that followed, before Olmo showed great composure and skill to make it 4-1 from the edge of the box in the 83rd minute.

The final before the final

Spain have thus secured a spot in the quarterfinals, where they will now face tournament hosts Germany on Friday. Obviously a clash between contenders for the trophy, it promises to be a true spectacle.

Georgia, meanwhile, will likely be happy with reaching the knockout stage, having beaten Portugal on the way. Their feelings of disappointment will gradually fade and they will eventually be proud of what they did at Euro 2024.

Kvaratskhelia and Mamadarshvili proved once again that their place is at the highest level of the game, despite the comprehensive defeat of their team.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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