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International Break Recap: Spain 3 – 0 Italy (WCQ 2017)

10/10 Performance from Isco who stole the show with two goals

Spain v Italy - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Spain took on Italy at the Santiago Bernabeu — the first National Team game at the stadium since 2006. When the official lineups were announced, fans drooled at the prospect of seeing Isco, Iniesta, Silva, and Asensio all play together in the starting XI. They did not disappoint.

Right from the start, Spain dominated proceedings and the interchanging of positions between the front three was evident. There was no primary false nine — Asensio, Isco, Iniesta, and Silva all interchanged throughout. Of the four, Isco shined brightest. He was everywhere. He scored two sensational goals — one a free kick and one a perfectly placed shot from the edge of the box with his left foot. Spain put on a master class and Italy failed to make any real challenge. It was like watching the Spain of old.

Julen Lopetegui has done a superb job so far in integrating the new generation with the old. The influence of Real Madrid on this Spanish side is evident. It was evident in all three goals as Sergio Ramos fed Alvaro Morata for the third goal to wrap up the game. Three goals, a clean sheet, beautiful football, and a cameo appearance from David Villa; Spanish fans could not ask for anything more!

Real Madrid Player Performances

Marco Asensio — 8: Asensio, on his first competitive start for Spain, showed no nerves and got himself involved as much as possible. He, Isco, and Silva interchanged positions all night with no one set as that primary false nine. Asensio more often than not found himself on the left. His speed was a constant threat for the aging Italian defense. The young Spaniard continues to impress and continues to make strides in his career. Don't expect to see him go back down with the U21’s. He proved he's here to stay with the senior team. He came off in the 77th minute for Saul.

Isco — 10: Isco scored a brilliant free kick in the 13th minute after Asensio was brought down on the edge of the box. The Bernabeu erupted and chanted the former Malaga man’s name as he ran to celebrate. Isco had the freedom to roam and find the ball. He picked his passes well and continued his fine form of the past eight months.

Isco was the best player on the pitch, coming deep to start plays and connecting high near the opposition’s box to keep the flow of attack. He scored his (and Spain's) second with a left-footed shot from the edge of the 18 after starting the play picking up the ball deep from the center backs. The man was everywhere. He even had a filthy meg on Veratti. Again, the Bernabeu sang his name after embarrassing the PSG man. Arguably one of Isco's best ever matches. He came off in the 88th minute to a standing ovation and was replaced by David Villa.

Sergio Ramos — 8.5: Played the whole 90 minutes and led expertly from the back. Stepping out and cutting off passes, dictating the tempo of play from the back, and winning his aerial battles. Italy didn't prove to have much attacking threat so Ramos did not have to over-exert himself in this match. But typical of Sergio, he went on a surging counter attack run with Morata and fed the former Madrid man with a low cross to score an easy goal.

Dani Carvajal — 7: Carvajal had a subdued first half, as much of the Spanish attack went through the middle and the left side of the field. Battled with Insigne for most of the night and the Spaniard came out on top. As one would expect, Carvajal was tenacious and aggressive--constantly hounding the opposition and pressing high to win the ball. Found himself on the break late in the first half with a deflected shot that may have resulted in a goal if taken quicker. Played the whole 90 minutes and will be happy with the clean sheet.

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