The NSC Olympiskiy stadium has historically been a happy hunting ground for Real Madrid and Spain. Spain won the 2012 UEFA European Championships at the Olympiskiy and Real Madrid defeated Liverpool in their 13th Champions League triumph. There would be no such joy for Spain in 2020 as Ukraine shocked La Roja with a 1-0 victory over the visitors. Luis Enrique put out a strong Spain eleven which included Sergio Ramos in the backline. Despite out-shooting their rivals by 21 to 2 and dominating possession by 72%, Spain failed to find the clinical touch necessary to break down Shevchenko’s Ukraine side. It is three points dropped for Spain, but they still sit a top of Group 4 in the UEFA Nations League with both Germany and Ukraine now just a point behind them.
From a Real Madrid perspective, Sergio Ramos played the full ninety minutes at right center back. In the dying minutes of the game, Ramos made his prototypical forays into the final third to try and salvage a point for Spain. In total he had 3 shots in the game, including a curled free kick just outside the box which took a tremendous save from Ukraine’s Georgiy Buschan to deny the goal. The captain ended the match winning all his ground duels (3), all his aerial duels (2), and completing 2 interceptions along with 3 tackles.
Real Madrid loanee, Dani Ceballos, featured in the match as did Sergio Reguilon, whom Real Madrid hold a buy-back clause on. Reguilon started the match in place of Jose Gaya at left back. Ceballos entered at half-time for Mikel Merino and provided a little bit more verticality and grit to the center of midfield, but it wasn’t enough to break the Ukraine dam.
Luis Enrique will be looking to find that clinical touch ahead of Euro 2021 otherwise this Spain team will continue to struggle vs deep blocks. The next international break will be a month from now where Spain will play a friendly vs the Netherlands and take on Switzerland and Germany to close out Group 4 of the UEFA Nations League.