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International Friendly: Spain and Portugal Play Out a Lively Draw

Spain 0-0 Portugal

Was International Friendly: Spain vs Portugal ever going to be a dull affair? With some of the world’s best players on the pitch and 20,000 noisy fans in the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano the answer is ‘no’!

The game was played with the intensity normally reserved for a finals tournament as both teams tried to set down a marker ahead of the Euros. There was little in terms of goalmouth action in a goalless first half, but plenty happening in the second half and Alvaro Morata almost won it at the death when he hit the bar.      

Fernando Santos coached Portugal to their first major triumph when they won Euro 2016 and, on this evidence, he’ll fancy his chances of leading his team deep into the 2020 competition, as will his counterpart Luis Enrique.   

 

Highlights of the game

In a high intensity first half, the kind of tempo we hope to see at Euro 2020, Spain had the Portuguese on the back foot in the opening exchanges, but without creating a clear early chance. Portugal actually had the ball in the net on 22 minutes when Jose Fonte headed in a free-kick cross from Sergio Oliveira, but referee Craig Pawson spotted a push on Pau Torres and chalked the goal off.

On 27 minutes Spain almost had the breakthrough when Alvaro Morata sent over a brilliant cross which beat Pepe and was met by Ferran Torres, but the Manchester City man headed wide when he should have hit the target. Then the Spain goalkeeper, Simon, given a chance to impress ahead of the Euros, had a fright on 40 minutes. Renato Sanchez crossed and the ball lopped up of defender Pau Torres, and reluctant to pick up the ball Simon hammered it into the midriff of Cristiano Ronaldo before it, thankfully, bounced back into his hands. Sanchez was probably Portugal’s best player in the opening 45, and promises to shine at the Euros after helping Lille to a Ligue 1 triumph this season. 

The first half Spain vs Portugal highlights were packed with commitment and no little passion, but it lacked the vital ingredient of a goal.

La Roja had two glorious chances to open the scoring early in the second half, first Alvaro Morata had a shot blocked and then screwed his second effort wide; then, Morata did well to keep a ball in play and squared it for Pablo Sarabia who, with the goal at his mercy, scooped the ball over.

Portugal fought back and Ronaldo delivered a brilliant ball in which Diogo Jota headed just over the bar. And then, on his 174th appearance for his country, Ronaldo leapt higher than anyone to meet a cross from Bruno Fernandes but his header glanced narrowly wide.  

Spain’s chances kept coming and Ferran Torres was next to miscue his shot when the goal beckoned, and then Morata had was inches away from converting a cross from Ferran Torres when he, and the 20,000 fans, expected the net to bulge.

As the game became stretched Ronaldo beat the offside trap to meet a long ball forward but his first headed touch was too heavy and the chance disappeared, then, as Spain pressed Rui Patricio made a smart save to keep out Koke’s cross-shot.

Then, in the last action of the game, Morata, clean through on goal, cut in onto this right foot and, with Patricio beaten, smashed the ball against the crossbar.  

 

Key statistics

The pre-match Spain vs Portugal betting odds had the draw at 3.01, but Spain might feel they should have won, with 65 per cent possession and ten shots to five.  

The last three games between Spain and Portugal have all ended in draws, the previous meeting in a friendly in 2020 which ended 0-0.

Álvaro Morata and Spain booed by home crowd after International Friendly draw with Portugal
Portugal’s Nelson Semedo in action with Spain’s Alvaro Morata

What’s next?

Spain finish their preparations for the European Championships with a home game against Lithuania on Tuesday night. Luis Enrique’s side then start their Euro campaign with a match against the famously stubborn Sweden, before moving on to Poland and their prolific hitman Robert Lewandowski, and then concluding their group games against Slovakia.    

Portugal have a date with Israel on Wednesday and then at Euro 2020 the Group of Death awaits the Selecao. They begin their tournament against Hungary and then face the 2014 and 2018 World Champions, Germany and France.

We’re just a week away now until the summer of football takes off and, with fans back in the stadia, it promises to be one of the best tournaments in recent history, with both Spain and Portugal set to play a big part, and here at SBOTOP we’ll be there every step of the way.

See you there!   

 

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