Spain (U21) 3-1 Denmark (U21)
Spain’s under 21 team prevailed over Denmark’s youth talents in an exciting end-to-end encounter that finished 3-1. The game was characterized by intense, yet chaotic pressing, positional fluidity, and lots of flair. It seemed that both coaches were content to let their starlets do their own thing and Denmark were the first to benefit, as Andrew Hjulsager opened the scoring.
But Spain soon hit back, equalizing through Merino in the 1st half, before winning the game thanks to goals from Saúl and Denis Suárez.
Starting out on the left, Asensio roamed anywhere he pleased, resembling the role of a trequartista more than anything else. He was given this freedom because the manager knew that he was the best player on the team. This was evident in the way his teammates consistently looked to find him in the attacking third.
Thus, Asensio was the main player dictating Spain’s possession play and tempo. He often looked to speed things up with quick one-two combinations or sharp one-touch passes out to the flank, which often caught Denmark by surprise and gave Spain impetus in the final third.
He also displayed some end-product. With Spain down a goal, Asensio delivered an inch-perfect corner onto the head of Merino to level the game late in the first half.
His smart play continued into the second period of play and his chemistry with 2nd half substitute Inaki Williams threatened to bury Denmark.
Mayoral didn’t have the greatest of games, but he showed some promising signs that highlights his present potential. His movement into the box was sharp and he was assertive in demanding for the ball, but his reading of the crosses he was receiving was slightly off at times. The one opportunity he did get was the result of an excellent off-the-ball run into the box, but he redirected the cross straight at the keeper.
Aside from that, he showed some neat touches with the ball at his feet and created a clear-cut opportunity for Camarasa with a brilliant back-flick.
However, it is clear that Spain’s coach was looking for something else, as he substituted Borja off early in the second half for the pacy Inaki Williams.
Llorente had another solid game that will only further cement his position as a quality central defensive midfielder. He came on the pitch well into the 2nd half, but he still played long enough to display his excellent timing of the challenge, offensive positioning, and accurate distribution.
Colombia 1-0 Bolivia
Coming into tonight’s World Cup Qualifier, Colombia were 5/5 wins with 5 clean sheets at home against Bolivia. This record looked to continue, as from the moment the ball kicked off Colombia dominated. Their first chance came in the 4th minute, with a great run and pass from James to Carlos Bacca – it was saved by Bolivian goalkeeper Carlos Lampe. This would be the tone for the first half from the Colombian side, as they would have plenty of chances as the half moved on. One such chance came in the 27th minute, when James got a great shot at goal with a header but just couldn’t will it into the net.
To be fair it should have been at least 2-0 to Colombia with the chances they had, but instead they let them just let them slip through their hands. Verde-Amarela just couldn’t crack the back 5 or 6 of a very defensive Bolivian squad.
Thus, it stood 0-0 at the break.
The second half would almost be a repeat of the first half, with Bolivia running a 5-man back line. Nothing was going to get past them. It was like they had erected an invisible shield, giving Colombia no hope of breaking through even though they were dominating.
I mean just look - this pretty much summed up Colombia’s night.
In the late stages of the match James tried to assert his dominance on the game, but like the rest of the team it just wasn’t falling in place from. It’s at this point that many Bolivian players started time-wasting.
But, with about ten minutes left, things got interesting, Juan Cuadrado - the right back for the day - was brought down in the box, drawing a penalty.
James stepped up to the spot and scored.
Even when down a goal, Bolivia didn’t back off from their defensive-minded tactics, allowing Colombia to eat up the clock with their possession.
It was all Colombia and final score ended 1-0.
He had a great night even if things weren’t quite going the way he wanted them to. He moved all over the place, but as time wore on, he stayed in the middle as the central playmaker for his side. He set up plenty of chances and even had a few shots himself. Overall, it was a great performance from James and I wish he’d have a few more games like this for Real Madrid.
1 Key Pass
Player Rating: 7.5