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Morata leads Spain to the Final Four

Morata leads Spain to the Final Four

And the nine made nine. And Morata’s goal was shouted as if the Nations League were a World Cup, because football gives away emotions as it pleases. Spain beat Portugal in Braga and will once again be among the four teams that will dispute the title next June in the Netherlands. Thanks to his character and how Luis Enrique squeezed the scoreboard after the break. There will be time to dwell on details and dissect everything that can be dissected, for now let’s enjoy two months in which to think only about Qatar 2022. An event like this deserves to have a hundred eyes on it.

Spain repaired some of the mistakes of just four days ago in Zaragoza. The first antidote to the set pieces that caused us so much damage against Switzerland was to advance the defensive line. In the first foul that Portugal had, the Spanish defense started in a stampede leaving five Portuguese players offside. The video work was bearing its first fruits. Without the ball, Spain was serious, they also did it with it at their feet despite the fact that the starting line-up foreshadowed that we were going to enjoy less possession without Busquets, Gavi and Pedri in the running.

But the statistics when passing through the first quarter of an hour told us that La Roja dominated by 68% to 32%. Fernando Santos twisted his face. His flight plan was only half fulfilled, as far as preventing danger from hovering around Diogo Costa’s defended goal. However, the ball barely lasted a breath when William Carvallo or Rúben Neves recovered it. Such was the case that his best chance came from poor control by Unai Simón, who in his attempt to dribble past Cristiano was about to commit a penalty. Everything was in a scare, just that. It was the first action in which the genius from Funchal was the protagonist; in the second, just five minutes later (30 ‘), he forced a yellow card from Guillamón, the starter as right central defender, who stepped on him in his attempt to chase him almost to the center of the field.

The first shock for Spain came in the 32nd minute, when Unai had to work hard on a shot by Diogo Jota, virtuoso at moving in short spaces. That action reflects the DNA with which Portugal has grown so much in recent years, its ability to speed up plays as soon as it recovers the ball. Two, three touches at the most, and auction. Portuguese danger is cooked in the microwave. Spain, meanwhile, sinned as usual. Too many touches with hardly any feint, with Morata as an islet and Rodri far from finding allies with which to get the Atlético striker to the ball. Gavi or Pedri were missing when it came to breaking rival lines thanks to driving or dribbling, luck that is not innate in Koke or Soler.

La Roja did not work and Luis Enrique gave another twist at the break by changing Guillamón, with a card, for Rodri. In turn, the position vacated by the City midfielder was filled by Busquets. Two minutes were enough for Cristiano to smell blood. He telegraphed an uncheck to Jota, he slipped between the innovative pair of central defenders and his shot did not end in a goal again due to Unai’s saving glove. As the minutes progressed, Portugal was winning in fangs, so, with half an hour still to go to straighten out a game that smelled like a final, Luis Enrique opted for a triple substitution as he did on Saturday against Switzerland. The Barça players, Gavi and Pedri, joined Busquets to rebuild the starting half at La Romareda, and so did Yeremy Pinowho went to the right wing with the consequent transfer of Ferran to the left.

Koke, Soler and Sarabia took their seats on the bench while La Roja advanced ten meters on the pitch. There was no other. Even at the risk of stripping ourselves in defense, Spain was only worth the goal to catch the long-awaited victory that led to the Final Four. So the duel became a heads or tails in which the scares traveled from one goal to another: Carvajal clears a corner almost under the sticks (69 ‘); Costa stops Morata’s low shot (71′); Gayà steals a frank shot from Cristiano (71′); Costa blocks the thread of Nico Williams, who had just entered the field (73’); Costa for a distant left-footed shot from Morata (76 ‘)… A cataract of intentions that finally found its reward in the 87th minute, when Carvajal joined the offensive gale and crossed to the far post, where Nico Williams, very successful, gave in to Morata, who finished off at will. A great goal as the canons dictate that made Luis Enrique run and shout at the fan. Spain is once again at the great party of the Nations League, to which only four chosen ones arrive. Now we have to change the chip to World mode. We have many pages, podcasts and television schedules to fill until La Roja lands in Doha. The big dream.


S. Busquets (45′, Hugo Guillamon), pedri (59′, C. Soler), Gavi (59′, Koke), Yeremy (60′, P. Sarabia), Nick Williams (72′, Ferran Torres), Joao Mario (72′, Bernardo Silva), Rafael Leao (77′, W. Carvalho), Vitinha (78′, Diogo Jota), joao felix (88′, Ruben Neves)


Referee: Daniele Orsato
VAR Referee: Massimiliano Irrati, Giorgio Peretti
Hugo Guillamon (30′, Yellow) Bernard Silva (45′, Yellow) Daniel Carvajal (54′, Yellow) Nuno Mendes (82′, Yellow) joao felix (95′, Yellow)

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