The battle of three Real Madrid players saw the spoils shared between Spain, and Dani Carvajal and Marco Asensio, and Germany, featuring Antonio Rüdiger. The result means that all three will have to wait to know whether they will take part in the last 16 of the World Cup.
Much of the talk leading up to this game surrounded exactly who Luis Enrique would include in his starting XI. Against Costa Rica, both the inclusion of Asensio and the exclusion of Carvajal came as something of a surprise, and it meant that the Spain coach faced a dilemma ahead of playing Germany. Many expected a swap, with Carvajal coming in and Asensio missing out, but Luis Enrique selected both Madridistas, with Carvajal replacing César Azpilicueta as the only change to the XI that beat Costa Rica.
Carvajal slotted in to the right-back role with fairly restricted offensive duties, instead being limited and pinned back by Jamal Musiala and looking to prevent him from running at him at pace by sitting deeper on the right of defence.
Asensio maintained his position as the central attacker, though this time in a more varied role than in the opening game of the group stage as he spent less time on the ball.
His impact was significantly more limited than it had been against Costa Rica. Only 9% of Spain’s attacks came through central positions as much of their play was fed through Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres in the wide areas. Asensio stuck closer to Niklas Süle than his team-mate Rüdiger, but as the game went on he drifted deeper and in the second half he reverted to a wide position with Olmo and Ferran instead looking to complete runs from deeper positions.
That’s not to say that he disappointed, though, and the fact that Luis Enrique withdrew Ferran Torres to bring on Álvaro Morata, rather than a straight swap with Asensio, spoke volumes. His pace and direct approach caused David Raum problems and Germany struggled to contain him.
Perhaps surprisingly, Germany’s two best chances of the first half fell to Antonio Rüdiger. The central defender looked a real threat at set pieces, heading one free-kick into the net only for VAR to call it back for offside as his run into the box was narrowly mis-timed. Minutes later, a routine straight from the training ground saw him drift wide and play the ball back into the middle but Unai Simón intervened.
.@ToniRuediger es el mejor delantero de Alemania.— Tomás Roncero (@As_TomasRoncero) November 27, 2022
The man who would break the deadlock would be former Real Madrid forward Álvaro Morata, now with Atlético Madrid. FC Barcelona’s Jordi Alba broke down the left flank and crossed the ball in to the box to meet a well-timed Morata run as he poked beyond Manuel Neuer.
Much like Asensio before him, Morata stuck to Süle and Rüdiger could do little to help his companion in the middle of the central defence. Pushing up the defensive line, the few times that Morata crept across, he often found himself falling foul of the offside with Rüdiger positioning himself higher.
Germany eventually swapped to a three-man defence with Rüdiger in the middle of Süle and Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich. Assured and confident, Spain found it harder to break down the German side and it was Hansi Flick’s team who found themselves pushing back in the search for an equaliser. In the end, it was Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug who got it as Germany broke down Spain’s left where Alejandro Baldé had recently replaced Jordi Alba and fired beyond Unai Simón.
Germany looked the more likely to steal a late winner, directing much of their okay through a tired Dani Carvajal on Spain’s right, but failed to find a second goal.
As a result of the 1-1 draw, Spain need to avoid defeat to Japan in their final group game, while Germany must beat Costa Rica and hope that Spain are victorious against Japan with sufficient swing in goal difference between the two teams.