Japan 2 – 1 Spain
(Group E, Khalifa International Stadium, 01/12/2022)
Azpi was brought back into the starting lineup for the crunch match against Japan. A win for either team would guarantee them a place in the last 16.
Azpi playing on the right of a back 4. Early in the game, Spain are totally dominant, with 66 percent of possession, so not much involvement for the Spanish back line.
Morata scored an early goal on 11 minutes. He’s impressive for Spain! Fantastic assist by Cesar, rolling back the clock to 2017.
Despite Japan’s disciplined back five, Spain attacked to the byline thereby bypassing the packed Japanese defence. Spain made it look easy.
Spain continued to dominate against a very strict formation who were practically inviting Spain onto them. Clearly a breakaway goal is the plan.
Good press from Japan, a definite change of tactic, calling the Spanish back 4 into action. Japan having a good spell, aiming to get level before half time. Well defended by Pau Torres.
Half time came with no further action. Azpi playing well though. A good half for Spain.
Aspi was replaced at half time for reasons unknown. He had a great 45 minutes and continued to do Chelsea and Spain proud.
Straight after the break, Gaya (14) in the right back position lost the ball and Japan scored a cracking goal.
Japan then went 2-1 up, again from Gays losing the ball! I wonder if the “best international manager in the world” is regretting substituting our Cesar yet!
Carvajal (20), then moved to RB which is his actual position.
Morata was subbed on 55 minutes, which really ended all current and ex Chelsea involvement.
Spain introduced more subs at 65 minutes, including Ansu Fati, the 20 year old Barcelona forward and Jordi Alba, the experienced Barcelona left back.
Japan had another excellent move, culminating in a miss hit strike on goal.
Spain got a grip on possession again, but found the Japanese defence difficult to get through again.
Spain seemed to realise they really needed to score around the 88th minute and started putting more pressure on the Japanese goal. With news coming through that Germany were now leading 4-2, and if Spain score Japan are out, things were getting a little tense for the 7 minutes’ extra time.
Spain made no headway though, and Japan and Spain both went through to the last 16.
Posted by the CSG’s World Cup Willie