Spain and Portugal battled in a thrilling match which ended 3-3 thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning freekick in the dying moments of the game. It was Ronaldo who was star of the show as he completed his 51st career hat-trick to snatch a point away from the Spaniards.
From the beginning it was obvious that Spain and Portugal both approached the game in completely different ways. Spain enjoyed playing with ball and Portugal were happier without it. Spain’s tactics involved overloading the left hand side with as many players as possible with Alba, Isco, Iniesta, Costa and sometimes even David Silva moving to the left. Where as Portugal’s counter-attacks were all about one man, Cristiano Ronaldo. The most impressive part of Ronaldo’s performance was not his goals but the way he adapted himself to play a deeper and a more involved role than his normal “fox in the box” role he plays for Real Madrid.
Portugal started off the game brightly by pressing Spain back, especially targeting their full backs. They committed four men forward always and worked hard to get back into their defensive shape as soon as they lost the ball. Spain slowly grew into the game and started to dominate possession in and around Portugal’s box but were unable to create any clear cut chances. As Portugal got tired, Spain’s full backs pushed ahead and got more involved in attacks. But still the game was full of contradictions. Spain scored two uncharacteristic goals from two uncharacteristic assists from Sergio Busquets.
First was a hopeful long ball from Busquets which he would have never played for Barcelona which was fantastically finished off by Diego Costa. The second goal for Spain involved Busquets and Costa again as Spain perfectly executed a set piece routine.
Portugal’s attack on the other hand revolved around Cristiano Ronaldo. They launched several hopeful long balls ahead which Ronaldo impressively managed to threaten Spain’s defence with. He dropped deep mostly in the first half setting up his teammates with his flicks, tricks and his passing. He played a half 9/half 10 role, where he sets up his teammates with the ball, lets them do the running and then he again receives the ball in dangerous positions to either shoot or draw fouls.
Portugal certainly will be the happier of the two teams with a point. But both the teams should easily get out of the group considering that the other two teams in the group are Iran and Morocco. Spain does have a couple of worries including David De Gea’s form for the national team and the fact that their usual style of play didn’t actually create any chances.
Jose Mourinho analysing Portugal 3-3 Spain