Spain’s World Cup qualifying campaign began with a match against Greece at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, held in Granada. It was the start of La Roja’s journey to qualification for Qatar at the end of next year.
Spain’s World Cup Qualifying Kicks Off With Greek Suprise
How the Teams Lined-Up
Luis Enrique’s Spanish national side adopted his favoured 4-3-3 formation. The starting eleven included captain and talisman Sergio Ramos. Attacker Ferrán Torres continued his recent run of games for his country, including a hat-trick against Germany last time out. It was Álvaro Morata who was charged to spearhead Spain’s attack.
Spain Reign over Greece
Spain held the advantage between the two sides going into the match. In their previous ten meetings, the Spaniards’ came out on top on seven occasions with two draws and a solitary defeat. The last time the two faced each other was at the 2008 European Championships. Spain secured a 2-1 win with goals from midfielder Ruben de la Red and striker Dani Gųiza. Forward Angelos Charisteas scored Greece’s consolation goal.
Spain Dominant in the Opening Half
However, the script did not go to form on this occasion as Spain could only draw 1-1 with Greece. However, La Roja controlled the match from minute one with a typical metronome high rhythm, dizzying their opponents.
Daniel Olmo had the game’s first big chance which rattled the bar. It was the 33rd minute where Spain made their dominant advantage count. Another controlled and well-worked move ended with a beautiful swinging cross from Koke. The Atlético Madrid midfielder found Morata who scored with a left-foot volley with the ball flying into the roof of the net. Spain were the better team with a range of lovely crisp passing possession, but they did not overexert themselves and looked to be cruising,
Spain Handed a Greek Tragedy
The second half saw much of the same blueprint with Spain caressing the ball while looking ready to add to their slender advantage. Yet Spain were rocked as Iñigo Martínez produced a clumsy foul on Giorgos Masouras and gave away a penalty. Anastasios Bakasetas gave Greece a priceless goal.
It was their first shot in the entire game, such as the dominance from the Spaniards. The goal came from nothing yet it changed the complexion of the game completely. It rocked Spain out of their rhythm. Meanwhile, it gave Greece something to fight for and gave them confidence.
Spain had their chances to get back ahead but hardly tested the Greek goalkeeper as the final pass let them down time and time again. Greece produced a stoic performance full of tenacity to shut out Spain. Their one shot in the whole of the game was enough to secure a notable draw and remain six games unbeaten.
The Key Men on the Night
Anastasios Bakasetas showed his cool to dispatch a great penalty into the roof of the net. He also led from the back and worked tirelessly for the team. Kryiakos Papadopoulos was the Greek shield in defence and was able to keep the Spanish armada at bay as the attacks arrived, especially in the first half. Álvaro Morata scored a classy goal on his weaker foot and deserved more from his performance.
Spain v Greece Match Verdict
Spain controlled the match with a vice-like grip in the first half. Overall, they remarkably made 942 passes and had 78 per cent of the possession as they demonstrated the monopoly of the ball heavily in their favour.
But for all their dominance, they only had a solitary goal to show and just two shots on target. It came back to haunt them as in the second half, the Greek’s produced their hallmark dogged display and their smash-and-grab showing snared a point. Therefore it was your classic game of two halves.
Up next for La Roja in Group B is an away trip to Georgia with the firm aim to return to winning ways and collect three points on the road to Qatar.