Spain beat Norway 2 - 1 (Rodrigo, Ramos; King) in tonight’s Group F Euro qualifier at the Mestalla. Luis Enrique’s men dominated possession, had the majority of the chances, and thoroughly deserved the victory. Here are some notes on the four Real Madrid players that featured.
In a match where Spain dominated possession (they had north of 70% of the ball in any given moment), Odegaard was always going to have few touches. Norway had occasional attacks against Luis Enrique’s men, but for the majority of it, they were pinned and had trouble stringing consecutive passes together.
Odegaard did look good in his limited time on the ball (though he failed to mark Jordi Alba on Spain’s opening goal, which we’ll get to). As always, he looks comfortable in tight spaces:
Again, Norway’s attacks were rare. They missed an open net in the first half when an attacker got in-behind Sergio Ramos but fluffed his chance. Aside from that, there was little danger from the Norwegians. Odegaard did well to read passing lanes and show as an outlet when opportunities arose:
One of his most aesthetically-pleasing traits that he’s displayed this season at Vitesse is his delicately dinked through-balls. He had one in the second half:
Odegaard, who started this game and was taken off after 56 minutes, finished with an 88% pass completion rate and three completed dribbles.
Spain had a lot of beautiful passing sequences in this match. While Morata was used as a focal point — Spain regularly looked to hit vertical passes to the Spanish striker between the lines, or send crosses to him from Asensio, Jordi Alba, or Jesus Navas — Asensio was a huge part of Spain’s electric passing in the final third. He was involved in through-balls into the half-spaces, combining with Alba on the left, and roaming throughout the field to act as an outlet and key instigator.
He and Alba tore Norway’s right flank on Spain’s opening goal. Odegaard should’ve tracked the cutting Alba:
One of Asensio’s many gorgeous, defense-splitting passes:
Asensio had a chance late, where he could’ve played a square pass to an open Rodrigo; but opted to shoot on goal himself. He was met with some whistles from the Mestalla crowd.
Ramos had little do to, given the nature of Spain’s dominance in possession — but he was part of big events. As mentioned above, he let an attacker behind him, leading to a shocking Norway miss from point-black. He had plenty of the ball as he distributed from the back. In the second half, he met a Ceballos cross at the far-post only to miss the target:
Eventually, he scored Spain’s winning goal, on yet another panenka penalty.
Pressure? What pressure?— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) March 23, 2019
Sergio Ramos with a cheeky panenka from the penalty spot for pic.twitter.com/a5gj3zTEZ7
Ramos completed 92% of his 88 passes and had four clearances.
Of the Asensio - Ceballos dyad; the latter was less influential in overall build-up, but he did have four key passes (only Alba had more, with five). Ceballos did get into dangerous positions in the half-spaces on occasion:
Ceballos was taken off after 74 minutes for Spain debutant Sergio Canales.