Spain have taken care of business in their Australia and New Zealand World Cup debut against Costa Rica. The first senses are positive, but there is still plenty to improve on if ‘La Roja’ want to get far in the tournament. The Spanish National Team did not show their best level. However, they have picked up a good final score in order to keep working on establishing their approach (3-0).
This is the starting line-up that Spain made their debut with at the World Cup: Misa Rodríguez; Ona Batlle, Irene Paredes, Ivana Andrés, Olga Carmona; Tere Abelleira, Aitana Bonmatí; Athenea del Castillo, Jenni Hermoso, Salma Paralluelo and Esther González. This was a pretty surprising starting line-up from coach Jorge Vilda due to the absence of Irene Guerrero (she did not even get to play) Mariona Caldentey or Alba Redondo. Alexia Putellas did not start either, as they are just being cautious with his return, as expected.
The game started off with the expected script. Costa Rica parked the bus awaiting for their opportunity and Spain dominated the ball possession. Jorge Vilda bet on giving importance to the wings with Athenea and Salma Paralluelo in order to try to break the opposite defensive wall through both plenty of passes and crosses.
Despite the approach, Spain lacked of some depth, probably as a result of the few times that the full backs got to join the attack. Ona Batlle and Olga Carmona are two very offensive full backs that love to join the offensive plays, but this time they were unable to do so.
The first goal came through luck after an own goal from Del Campo in the 20th minute. A couple minutes later, Aitana Bonmatí, the MVP of the game, scored the second one. She makes look easy everything she does and made an outstanding healing pass to shoot with his ‘bad leg’ and finish the action on target. She was unstoppable today and she just seemed to be everywhere on the field.
The National Team seemed unstoppable after opening the scoreboard and they were set to score many more goals. As minutes passed by, Salma Paralluelo began to go up and became a problem for Costa Rica on the left side. Her speed and dribbling resulted in many scoring chances for Spain.
Spain only needed five more minutes to score the third goal after two very clear chances from Esther and Olga that keeper Daniela Solera saved. She was the savior for Costa Rica through a festival of saves.
The third and last goal for Spain came in the 27th minute after a shot from Esther after a rebound. The ‘9’ managed to send it in after several attempts. Another player that tried it several times but just was not accurate enough was Jenni Hermoso. She did not have her best day in front of the goal and even missed a penalty in the 32nd minute, which is something very unusual.
The pace from Spain went down as minutes passed by and even Costa Rica had some chances. Surprisingly, the second half ended scoreless. Players went to the field feeling very confident and tried some new things like long distance shots and even a bicycle kick from Aitana.
Alba Redondo and Mariona Caldentey went in with half an hour left in order to switch the system. The senses were now better and players like Aitana or Jenni felt more free to reach the opposite box. The pause from Mariona and her 1vs1 is a need for this team. She is a different player and a key to overcome defenses. Alba Redondo did not have her day, but she created a lot as usual.
Best news for Spain in the second half was the playing minutes from Alexia Putellas in the last quarter. The current Golden Ball had been practicing on her own for the last few days due to some physical issues.
We must be very cautious with her after almost a year without playing. The senses on her return were positive and she dared to make her typical dribbles. Spain will have to make some self-criticism in order to improve the level in the next coming games.
Spain struggled when taking very defensive squads and that is a very serious issue to work on. Missing so many scoring chances like today can be expensive against a better opponent. The players should not be that happy, as they should have increase their lead. There is still a long way to go and many to improve on. The best performing from ‘La Roja’ is still to come.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @SEFutbolFem.