Full time: England 1-0 Spain. It’s an amazing result. I thought England would be butchered by Spain. To be fair, every analysis I saw agreed with me. Spain are rightly World and European Champions, whilst England looked lacklustre throughout most of their qualifying campaign.
Spain played their usual style of possession and passing based football, but even early on they were a bit sloppy. Their passes weren’t quite right and England had opportunities to pick them off before Spain could apply any sustained pressure. England couldn’t hold possession themselves, however, so there weren’t many real chances in the first half. England had looked strong at the back, but Spain made a living at the last World Cup by wearing down opponents and picking off late goals.
This being a friendly, though, England could change out their entire midfield during the second half, which I think really helped. They also played more positively for the start of the second half which led to their goal. It was an ugly sort of goal and Reina really ought to have done better, but it gave England something to defend. For a time after the goal England actually looked much the better side with Spain a bit shocked that they were behind.
It was in the last fifteen minutes in which England really performed well, however. Spain threw everything at them, but England’s defenders, Scott Parker in particular, were everywhere. Spain’s pressure was repeatedly cleared they only got a few clear chances from almost a quarter of an hour’s worth of possession in England’s back third. In the entire match Spain had something like twenty off target shots. A couple were bad misses, but a lot were scuffed because of the English defenders weren’t letting them get away. Only once in the last fifteen minutes did Hart have to make a save, though Cesc Fabregas missed a shot that he would put away nine times out of ten. Spain also had a shot come off the bar.
Overall, England played very well. Much better than I or almost anyone expected them to do, however Spain played poorly by their (admittedly lofty) standards. A defensive lapse led to the only goal and Spain had chances to equalise and take the lead late that they spurned. That shouldn’t bother England too much, however, as few sides can beat Spain when they are playing on top of their game. England mustn’t get carried away, but they can be rightly proud of their performance.