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Esther & Cardona Feature In 1-1 Draw With Germany; Arnold Clark Cup

Schüller and Putellas score in a draw.

Germany v Spain - Arnold Clark Cup - Riverside Stadium Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

The inaugural edition of the Arnold Clark Cup, featuring four of the top-ten ranked nations in Germany, England, Spain, and Canada, kicked off with Spain facing Germany in the opener.

Spain’s squad had five Madrid players after Zornoza pulled out but none started the game against the Germans. Esther and Cardona came off the bench in the 57th minute to replace Jenni Hermoso and Amaiur, respectively.

Spain lined up in their typical 4-3-3 but were forced into an early change after Mariona had to be replaced due to an injury. Germany matched Spain’s 4-3-3 on paper but in practice it was a 4-5-1, as Germany looked to sit back, stay compact centrally, and then spring into counters rather than controlling possession.

Martina Voss-Tacklenburg’s strategy proved very effective in the first half as Germany managed to limit Spain to a few chances and denied them central progression while crowding them in the wide areas. Germany deliberately slowed down the pace and refused to step out and press Spain, thus, denying them space to play through. On the break, the pace of Brand and Buhl was key as the former had a brilliant game. Schüller often was the only player that stayed up as an outlet.

In the 2nd half, Spain came out with a different strategy. They looked to play a lot more direct with balls over the top and in behind the defensive line. They moved the ball to one side before playing a backward pass which was followed by a long ball over the top. Germany’s reluctance to press gave Patri Guijarro ample time to pick out runners in behind.

Spain’s goal early in the second half came from a similar pattern and they generated multiple other opportunities in this manner.

Neither of Esther or Cardona had any significant impact on the proceedings. Cardona is still getting up to pace after her return from injury and only displayed glimpses of her 1v1 and ball-carrying ability. Cardona was largely neutralised by a combination of Gwinn and Däbritz.

Esther got on the ball by dropping deep but couldn’t get on the end of chances for Spain as the main target were often the runners from midfield. She did make those runs off the shoulder a couple of times and pressed out of possession.

Germany were able to equalize thanks to a failed clearance at the back by Spain’s and Rall’s persistence. The failed clearance fell kindly for Schüller, who was in acres of space and she buried it. Schüller did have a couple more opportunities early on in the game but rushed into her shots.

Spain will next face England on the 20th of February.