Spain vs France International Friendly shaped up to be quite a match for a number of reasons. France had a little something to prove at the Stade de France after losing there to Portugal in the Euros last summer.
Spain hadn’t been playing particularly well either, and have been looking to find a rhythm with the new blood finally infused after del Bosque retired.
So this match definitely played more like a World Cup qualifier than a friendly, and was rife with opportunities at both ends.
Ultimately, Spain’s seasoned midfield including Iniesta and Busquets bossed the game and gave Spain plenty of decent chances.
But the real story of the match came from an individual not even on the pitch. If you haven’t heard already, you will undoubtedly read plenty soon, but this match was the highest profile match to date to feature a Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
And boy, did that new feature make a statement in this match.
It all started in the 48th minute when France was on the break, Jallet crossed to Kurzawa who headed across to Griezmann who headed past De Gea.
The official awards the goal as Greizmann and France celebrate, but wait! Within seconds the VAR must have signaled the official, he pauses with his hand up, touches his ear, listens for maybe 20 seconds, and reverses the decision. In less time than France celebrates, the VAR reviews the play and rightfully notices Kurzawa was offside when Jallet crossed - Goal rightfully disallowed!
Future of video replay for FIFA on display in France vs. Spain, gets the call right:https://t.co/Aji4caw1mF pic.twitter.com/ynKe7fa2Wi— CBS Sports Soccer (@CBSSportsSoccer) March 29, 2017
It would be one thing if this was the only instance, but in the 77th minute Alba plays in Deulofeu for Spain and he finishes with ease, but wait! The line judge has his flag up and rules offsides - goal disallowed. But wait again! The head official almost immediately receives word from the VAR, raises his hand, touches his ear, and within maybe 15 seconds, he indicates that the line judge was overruled by the VAR and the goal stands!
Say what you will about this still-to-be-properly-vetted technology, but two extremely quick (well under 1 minute), extremely accurate and extremely game-changing calls were made in this match. And that will have fans and pundits alike weighing in for weeks to come.
Oh yeah, we had some of our boys play too.
Ramos, Isco, Morata, Carvajal all started, and Nacho got some minutes too. No injuries.