Farewell to the World Cup. Like four years ago, in Russia 2018, with the same feeling of running into a wall over and over again. Spain lost to Morocco and leave Qatar with a single win (7-0 against Costa Rica) that led us to believe we were kings when, from what we saw, we were mere beggars. “The result doesn’t matter to me,” said Luis Enrique in the previous one. That sentence now sounds like an epitaph. LaRoja played badly and fell resoundingly on penalties against Morocco, which is writing history in the World Cups. He had never reached the quarterfinals. Spain, meanwhile, the Spain of a thousand paces, must withdraw into the corner of thought for a while. What is Style? We were in that when a World Cup passed over us.
The match was hard and close, as expected, with Morocco fled behind with barely any free space, with the ball perpetually in the shoes of the Spanish players, and so it was. It was the planned script and it didn’t seem to change Luis Enrique or Walid Regragui. A long-winded game was coming up in which scoring opportunities would be a precious commodity. La Roja, dressed in white and light blue on this occasion, just like Celta (oh, how it would have looked good on Iago Aspas…), had a priority task: to accelerate his attack with breaking moves because otherwise he would suffer as happened against armored teams behind, see Georgia, Sweden or Poland.
Morocco’s 4-1-4-1 was unpalatable. The players have not given a loophole to a Spain matched the eleven that thrashed Costa Rica with Marcos Llorente being the only substitution for Azpilicueta. You saw the minutes go by, now 10, then 20 or 25, but nothing, no chance to score, either in one goal or in another. So it was clear that the danger would arise in a small detail, every blunder. This came after the half hour was up, when Bono raffled off a ball which led to a double shot from Gavi and Ferran, although both were later canceled by the linesman’s flag.
Morocco also had theirs in a left-footed shot from Mazraoui after Ferran was too confident when it came to letting the ball play on the edge of the Spanish area. Unai Simón coped well in what was his first serious intervention. But it was a first warning from Morocco, which, thanks to the order of Amrabat and the stages of Ziyech, who danced the whole match with Jordi Alba, grew little by little. Moroccan solidarity translated into the constant support of their players, who did not give Gavi, Ferran or Asensio a break; every time a Spanish player dribbled past an opponent and turned, he ran into another. And with another. Aguerd enjoyed another scoring opportunity towards the break, a header that went over Unai’s crossbar. And immediately afterwards, Spain received another shock a loan from Ziyech who fortunately did not find a partner. It was a way to reach half time with the feeling that Morocco was winning on points, stretching like he hadn’t done in the last few minutes. Time to regain strength, for Luis Enrique to analyze how to face that red-green wall that had been insurmountable until then.
The start of the second half, however, drew a different scenario, with Morocco failing to capitalize on the slowness of their latest attacks and being thrown back even further. A double lock, in short. The stats gave us two taps on the shoulder and gave us a revealing piece of information: Olmo’s shot at 55′, freed from fists by Bono, he was first among the three sticks of the Spanish Selection throughout the match. Luis Enrique understood that the best recipe to end that drought was to enlist Soler and Morata instead of Gavi and Asensio. With the Valencian player you win a priori on arrival, although it is true that Gavi had settled in that second part as a toothache for Achraf. Regragui reacted with minutes for Abde, the staggering Osasuna player, for Boufal.
But the result remained unchanged and the game won an indisputable pint minute after minute in extra time. Morocco seemed to take that extra 30 minutes for good and slowed down their lines by ten metres, Spain moves up a gear thanks to the entry of Nico Williams. Athletic’s was noticed, he always faced, generated those passes to the area that until then had only been a utopia. But the long-awaited goal did not come that way either. He was seen, the game had the word extension written on his forehead since it started running. And so it happened. With both teams not iota removed from their roles, with Morocco armored and Spain tries, either to the right, with the aforementioned Nico, or to the left and the center with the extra petrol of Balde and Ansu Fati. But none of the three seriously threatened the rival goal, something that happened with Cheddira, who was 1-0 in the 104th minute but found the fortitude of Unai, who prevented a heart attack in half of Spain. There were still fifteen minutes of chills and, if no one avoided it, the dreaded penalties. And it was achieved, with 1,019 passes from La Roja and the last quake from a shot from Sarabia in minute 123. which even hit the right post of the goal defended by Bono. The rudeness of football also wanted Sarabia herself, who had entered the game to face the terrible party, was the one who missed the first of the launches. Then Soler and Busquets did it in a torment that ended with the penalty converted by Achraf. It was the end. A very difficult ending.
On. Morata (62′, M. Asensio), C Soler (62′, Gavi), Ez Abde (65′, S. Boufal), Nico Willems (74′, Ferran Torres), A. Patience (81′, Y. En-Nesyri), W. Cheddira (81′, Z. Amallah), Y. Attiat-Allah (81′, N. Mazraoui), J. El Yamiq (83′, N. Aguerd), Ansu Fati (97′, Dani Olmo), Alex Bake (97′, Jordi Alba), P. Sarabia (117′, Nico Williams), B. Benun (119′, A. Ounahi)
Referee: Fernando Rapallini
VAR Referee: Mauro Vigliano, Nicolás Gallo Barragán
The door (75′,Yellow) Roman Saiss (89′,Yellow)