Spain surprised by Switzerland
Spain was surprised 2-1 by Switzerland on Saturday in Zaragoza for the 5th day of the League of Nations, and will try to validate their ticket for the final four on Tuesday (8:45 p.m.) in Braga against Portugal, winner of the Czech Republic 4-0 on Saturday night.
The Swiss, bottom of Group B before Saturday’s matches, opened the scoring in the 21st minute thanks to a header from Manuel Akanji from a corner, then Spain equalized on the return from the locker room by Jordi Alba (55th), but the Nati immediately responded with another goal from a corner concluded by Breel Embolo and touched by Eric Garcia (58th), who ended up showering the Iberian ardor.
Luis Enrique tried to turn his attack upside down in the 63rd minute to grab at least a draw, but nothing worked: despite the entry into play of youngsters Nico Williams and Yeremi Pino on the wings in place of Ferran Torres and Pablo Sarabia, and that of Borja Iglesias in place of Marco Asensio as centre-forward, Spain failed to overcome the Yann Sommer wall.
With this setback, the first since the start of the group stage of this League of Nations, the Spaniards fall back to second place in group 2, two points behind the Portuguese leaders.
For Switzerland, it is a second prestigious victory in a row, after their 1-0 victory against Portugal in Geneva on June 12. It is also the first victory in its history on Spanish soil.
The Swiss even almost widened the gap in the 62nd, on an exit badly negotiated by Unai Simon, a symptom of the feverishness of his team less than two months before the start of the World Cup in Qatar (November 20 – December 18).
And Spain, in turn, believed to see the light again on this hazardous back pass from Renato Steffen who almost entered his own goal, before going out for a corner.
Luis Enrique, in addition to adjusting the concerns raised on Saturday evening, will have to monitor the state of health of Yeremi Pino, who finished the match with a serious limp.
It is now Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates who now stand on the road to Spain: only one of these two big nations in world football will qualify for the “Final Four” of the League of Nations.
La Roja had already disputed that of last year: it had taken its revenge by eliminating the very fresh Italian European champions in the semi-final, before yielding against France in the final.
Portugal win in the Czech Republic
Portugal corrected the Czech Republic 4-0 and took the lead in Group B, thanks in particular to Diogo Dalot, double scorer on Saturday in Prague during the penultimate day of the League of Nations.
The Manchester United side opened the scoring after an action he had initiated himself (1-0, 33rd) before Bruno Fernandes, his teammate at the Red Devils, made the break just before the break ( 2-0, 45th+2). In the second half, Diogo Dalot offered himself a double (3-0, 52nd) and Diogo Jota completed the Portuguese ride (4-0, 82nd).
After thirty minutes of play, the Seleçao gained momentum. Diogo Dalot launched a breakthrough into the Czech half before relying on Bruno Fernandes who crossed into the box. Well placed, Rafael Leão put back for Dalot who victoriously took the ball back from the penalty spot (1-0, 33rd).
The 2016 European champions gave themselves a breath of fresh air when, from the left side, Mario Rui sent a cross into the heart of the Czech area that Bruno Fernandes pushed well into the back of the net (2-0, 45th + 2 ).
For his part, Cristiano Ronaldo, another Mancunian, did not seem in a great evening on the occasion of his 190th selection. Hit in the nose from the 13th minute, ‘CR7’ then completely missed the ball when Bruno Fernandes had served him perfectly back at the penalty spot (24th). The 37-year-old striker then missed his volley after a center from Fernandes (39th).
Worse, the five-time Ballon d’Or caused a penalty when, protecting his face from a Czech corner, the ball hit his hand, the referee relying on the VAR to validate the sanction.
But the error of the Portuguese captain was ultimately inconsequential since Patrik Schick sent his shot well above the Portuguese cages (45th + 6).
In the second half, Portugal drove home the point from their first chance. Staying at the forefront, Diogo Dalot inherited a full axis ball a few meters from the entrance to the surface. He then fired a wrapped shot from the left which left no chance for Tomas Vaclik (3-0, 52nd).
At the end of the game, on a corner, Cristiano Ronaldo rose higher than everyone else to deflect the ball towards the far post where Diogo Jota followed well and sealed the Portuguese correction with a header (4-0, 82nd).
At the end of this penultimate day, Portugal took the lead in Group B with 10 points, taking advantage of Spain’s home defeat against Switzerland (2-1) at the same time.
Tuesday, when receiving their Spanish neighbor for a shock at the top (8:45 p.m.) in Braga, Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates will be able to settle for a draw to join the Final Four of the League of Nations.