Plenty of friendlies to chose from on today’s International slate. But, if friendlies just aren’t your thing, and you wanted to catch some Madridista blood in action with something at stake, then you generally can’t go wrong with tuning in to Euro U-21 qualifying — where tonight, Martin Odegaard, Dani Ceballos, Jesus Vallejo, and Borja Mayoral all started for Norway and Spain respectively.
It was all about Odegaard and Ceballos today — though Jesus Vallejo, as steady as ever, was very good in commandeering Spain’s back-line. Slovakia are a side with much more capacity offensively then Spain’s previous opponent, Iceland, and Albert Celades’s men were often taken advantage of in transition defensively. Pablo Maffeo and Aaron Martin — Spain’s wing-backs, who were almost often as high up the pitch as Carlos Soler and Mikel Oyarzabal on the flanks — were caught up the field on a few occassions in the first half. There were times, before Spain eventually conceded the first goal of the game, where the Spanish backline was spread thin, and it took some excellent reading of the game from Vallejo to prevent further leaking:
Shortly after that play, Slovakia took the lead from a corner — a darting run from the top of the box caught Spain by surprise, and a header was deflected into Fabian, who put the ball into his own net.
It was at that moment where Slovakia woke up the sleeping giant that is Dani Ceballos, who, as always, was largely responsible as the offensive funnel — the binding agent between defense and offense, and the linchpin that would pick out the constant runs down the flanks while Spain threw waves at Slovakia’s narrow defensive line. Like against Iceland, Ceballos would often use those overlapping runs as a decoy to cut inside. He also scored three goals before the game was finished — all of which were golazos:
Ceballos hat-trick complete he is literally fathering the entire nation of Slovakia pic.twitter.com/OVpGTIoksF— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) November 14, 2017
Spain cruised to a 5-1 victory. Amid the Ceballos mayhem, Iñigo Cordoba scored a beauty go-ahead strike from outside the box, and Borja Mayoral — quiet all game, and desperately in need of a goal to turn his confidence around — scored Spain’s fifth goal.
Martin Odegaard lifted Norway to a 2-1 win over Ireland. Beyond scoring, he was also slinging things from deep, and carrying over his great form with Heerenveen as well as the national team.
Now, Ødegaard was this close to give us the lead again. pic.twitter.com/EKxYLXYueX— (@NorwayStats) November 14, 2017
While Spain comfortably sit top of their group in qualifying; Norway have work cut out still, as they lie third in Group 5 — two points back of Ireland in second and four points back of Germany who lead the group.