Spain continued their fine start to the newly-formed Nations League as they thumped World Cup finalists Croatia by a convincing 6-0 scoreline. La Roja started the game on the back foot after being caught on a few occasions by Croatia’s high press but thereafter, they dominated the proceedings to hand Zlatko Dalic’s side their biggest-ever defeat in their footballing history.
Three things we learned:
Marco Asensio sizzles for La Roja: Earlier this summer, Asensio was handed the exclusive opportunity to don the iconic number 7 jersey at Real Madrid but he snubbed the offer to avoid the added pressure on his shoulders. Since then, he has been in splendid touch whenever on the playing field and the Croatia game providing a full display of his qualities. In addition to scoring a stunning long-range goal, Asensio added three more assists to his name. The Spaniard could have easily had another goal to his tally but unfortunately, his strike was deemed an own goal from opposition keeper Lovre Kalinic. Perhaps someday, Asensio will eventually accept the number 7 shirt with the European champions.
Saul Niguez excelling in a free role: The Atletico Madrid ace suffered a huge disappointment during the summer after he was excluded from Spain’s 23-man World Cup squad. However, he has since worked hard to earn a recall and it has ended up being a memorable one with goals against both England and Croatia. On both occasions, Saul has been offered the license to romp forward from a central midfield role and this has certainly worked to his advantage as he has got on the right side of deliveries from his teammates. With Andres Iniesta having called his retirement from the game, Saul now has the right opportunity to excel in a similar role whereby he has the license to make regular runs towards the opposition box.
Croatia get a reality check after World Cup: Croatia surprised many at the recent World Cup where they went all the way to the final versus France. Though, they could not win the global crown, they managed to win over several supporters but the team have now been brought back to earth after the embarrassing result. Unlike at the World Cup, the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic struggled to influence play against La Roja and they may need to step up their game in the double-header versus England to avoid relegation from League A. Meanwhile, the Croatians also looked disappointing in the striking department with Ivan Santini being guilty of missing a clear-cut chance before Spain took the lead but that could be solved, once Andrej Kramaric and Ante Rebic return from their respective injuries.
Image – Getty