In what was built as a blockbuster encounter of two giant footballing nations, what we saw was a beatdown. Spain absolutely destroyed Italy in their World Cup Qualifier on Saturday night in Madrid, and Manchester City’s David Silva didn’t even need to shine as he usually does with the national team. It was a collective spectacle from La Roja, and Spain have virtually guaranteed automatic qualification to next year’s World Cup.
Italy set up on a 4-2-4 formation designed to press Spain high up the pitch and constantly attack them. The problem is that Spain played with 6 midfielders and no strikers, which meant that La Roja absolutely destroyed Daniele De Rossi and Marco Verratti in midfield, which then meant that Spain dominated the entire half.
Italy had only one chance with a bullet header from Andrea Belotti requiring a world class save from Manchester United keeper David De Gea, and Spain scored two goals to speak for their first half dominance, both coming from Isco. The Real Madrid man scored two crackers, the first with his right foot on a free-kick, and the second with a beautiful left-footed strike into the bottom corner after a few skill moves to get away from Italy’s defenders.
At halftime, a Spain masterclass gave them a comfortable lead, and Italy had a lot of work to do.
The game was a little more open at the start of the second half with Italy committing many bodies forward in search of goal, and they had a very good chance when Ciro Immobile found Lorenzo Insigne, but De Gea made another fantastic stop. Belotti had another good chance with a header but the ball went over the bar, and Italy looked very dangerous in the first 10 minutes of the final period.
Italy’s good start quickly turned into more Spain dominance, with their no-striker system confusing the Italy defense and leading to complete control of midfield and many scoring chances. Álvaro Morata joined the scoring party with a tap-in following a cross from Sergio Ramos, and the victory was sealed.
The final minutes featured the return of New York City FC superstar David Villa to the Spanish national team after three years, and Spain celebrated a sensational win against a great opponent. What a night.
Spain: De Gea; Carvajal, Piqué, Ramos, Alba; Koke, Busquets, Iniesta (Morata); Isco (David Villa), David Silva, Asensio (Saúl)
Goals: Isco (13’, 40’), Morata (77’)
Italy: Buffon; Darmian, Barzagli, Bonucci, Spinazzola; De Rossi, Verratti; Candreva (Bernardeschi), Belotti (Éder), Immobile (Gabbiadini), Insigne