Hierro (it’s odd saying that huh?) and co won’t be pleased with a point after Matchday 1 but following a thrilling 3-3 draw with the Iberian neighbours Portugal they can’t be too disheartened. Spain aren’t strangers to slow starts, and with the week they have had getting a point against their biggest rivals in the group should be seen as a positive despite being five minutes away from claiming three. As Spain move forward here are two things worth keeping an eye on:
1. Spain miss Dani Carvajal and need him back ASAP
When Carvajal left the Champions League Final early back in May, all of Spain held their breath. It goes without saying that the Real Madrid man is one of the best fullbacks in the game and his importance to club and country cannot be understated. Against Portugal one thing was very clear for Spain, without Carvajal (or any genuine attacking full back on the right), they are extremely dependent on their left side to stretch play and create chances. This in turns leads to them becoming incredibly predictable to play as their opponents know where the majority of their play will be featured.
The combination of Iniesta and Alba has been honed at club level, but there exists no such link on the right. Nacho, despite his wonder goal, is as much of an attacking threat as David De Gea and without the support of a fullback David Silva was left either outnumbered or finding himself being dragged deep inwards to connect with teammates.
2. Diego Costa is the real deal
He’s not David Villa or Fernando Torres, but that should not worry Spain fans too much as this Spain is not the same as the Spain the two former forwards excelled in. Ever since his first appearance for La Furia Roja there have been legitimate questions about the suitability of Diego Costa for his adopted country. In truth, yes he has stuck out like a sore thumb in the past but today? Right now? Yes, Diego Costa fits this model of Spain.
There are still hints of the old Spain with their pretty passing and control of the game through ball domination, but this Spain is far more willing to go long, throw the ball up to the big man, ping crosses in. In short, this is a Spain that Diego Costa can get involved with and utilise his skill-set to it’s maximum potential. At the 2016 Euros’s the question being asked was where the goals would come form and while Alvaro Morata (currently cheering his friends on from home or a beach) helped him to 3 back then he has never felt like a forward opponents with quality would fear. That’s never been the case with Costa. When he’s on form the world notices.