Germany saved an important point for themselves and still has hopes of advancing, writes Janne Palomäki from Al-Khawri.
EPA / AOP
When the first heavyweight match of this World Cup was about to start at Al-Bait Bedouin Stadium, the television cameras caught a close-up of Spain’s head coach Luis Enrique.
Earlier in the day, the hoarse-voiced koutsi had made a video greeting to his deceased daughter Xana.
– My daughter would have turned 13 today. We love you wherever you are, dad chatted during the bike ride.
He then set out to attack Germany with completely predictable plans. Compared to his German colleague Hansi Flick, Luis Enrique swayed in his own technical area with the power of completely different energy bars.
The same level difference was also visible on the field. The red machine kept up the pace and rolled its attacks on the goal guarded by Manuel Neuer. The German veskar has had a bit of a shaky start to the tournament, so he happily took credit for guiding Dani Olmo’s long-range cannon into the top corner.
Jordi Alba’s effort narrowly missed, and Ferran Torres must have been pleased with the offside flag after wasting the best position in the opening period.
Luis Enrique is one of the best tacticians in the world. After the first foursome, he expected the direction of the game to stay roughly the same.
He was wrong. Spain’s movement slowed down and the ball no longer moved as quickly from man to man.
The head coach first thought to send Pau Torres as a substitute and bring Rodri to the midfield in place of Sergio Busquets, who may be card-laden.
However, the plan would not have brought more power to the offensive end. Luis Enrique wanted to win this for his daughter. The rest of the team was certainly attracted by the idea of one flute game before the quarterfinals.
In the 55th minute, Koutsi moved his pieces. Álvaro Morata has played for Real Madrid, Juventus, Chelsea and Atlético in his career, but in no club has he been loved as much as in the national team.
Even now, Morata only had time to be on the field for less than ten minutes, when Olmo and Alba played a delicious running ball to the attacker. This leaves Niklas Süle sprinting behind and lifts the ball into the net from the front top corner.
Morata’s goal was already Spain’s eighth in the World Cup finals. The last time La Roja was as effective (2010), the team ended up celebrating with gold medals under their arms.
The setback derailed Germany already badly to the brink of the abyss. Another consecutive defeat would have meant for the white shirts that the continuation would no longer be in their own hands.
This time Flick makes the right choice. He makes a triple change and looks for more power on the offensive end.
Luis Enrique, on the other hand, sent only 19-year-old Alejandro Balde to the left wing, but the youngster was only allowed to be on the field for a few tens of seconds, when Substitute Niclas Füllkrug bombed the ball to his heart’s content into the top corner.
Werder Bremen’s top team had entered the field just under a quarter of an inch earlier. At the very end, another Substitute Leroy Sané is even close to the winning goal, but he drifts into too small a corner and the situation dries up.
The draw leaves the continuation of both Euro giants to the last round. It seemed to suit the coaches very well too, because at the end Luis Enrique and Flick were neck-and-neck in a friendly way.