Tuesday night the Spanish squad traveled to St. Petersberg to take on the hosts of next summer’s World Cup. Lopetegui decided to mix up the squad, selecting the in-form Rodrigo, Suso, and Asensio make up the midfield. Nacho also featured at right back, replacing Odriozola.
For the second game in a row Jordi Alba opening the scoring, heading a perfectly delivered Asensio cross past the goalkeeper after 10 minutes. Spain dominated the majority of the possession aiming to catch the hosts in transition with speed. The second goal of the night came from the penalty spot from a handball, where Ramos confidently put Spain up 2-0. Russia reacted well, to come within one before halftime through a clinical Smolov finish. At halftime, Lopetegui looked to experiment with the squad formations replacing Alba, Iniesta, and Suso for Moreno, Callejon, and Illarramendi and transitioning to a back three (Nacho/Pique/Ramos). It took only 6 minutes after the break for Russia to draw level through quick, creative play through the disarray Spanish defense. Minutes later Spain were awarded their second penalty of the night, and again Ramos converted the penalty to retake the lead. Russia leveled the scoreline again in the 70th from quick play and a rifled shot past De Gea, 3-3.
Russia have not played in an official competition due to hosting the World Cup. Therefore, the friendly matches Russia have played have been tight, competitive affairs. A well fought battle between the two sides considering key players missing from the squad/lineup.
Julen Lopetegui complete 2017 undefeated (8W 2D).
Spain’s next international match will be in March against the reigning world champions, Germany.