Recap & Highlights: Spain 7-0 Australia; Women’s Friendly

Spain begin their final preparations for the Women’s Euros 2022 with a friendly game against Australia. As Spain were looking to gain momentum ahead of the tournament, the Matildas aimed to distribute minutes among the young players and those with the lack of senior experience to gauge their squad in preparation for the home world cup in 2023. Spain ended up winning the game comfortably by a scoreline of 7-0.

Spain lined up in their typical 4-3-3 with Ivana Andrés partnering Paredes at CB. Mariona Caldentey, Amaiur Sarreigui and Lucía García formed the front 3. Tony Gustavsson lined up in a 5-4-1 with Gielnik playing as the lone striker up front. Australia kept their defensive and midfield lines compact and managed to keep a lid on the scoreline for most of the first half.

Spain dominated possession, as expected, recording 78% possession in the opening quarter of the game. Ivana didn’t have much to deal with in her time on the pitch, she was often stationed as the deepest player as the ball progressed in the final third and Spain pushed as many as 6 bodies in attack.

Spain managed to breach the Aussie lines pretty easily but were caught offside very frequently before getting called offside. Australia’s flat defensive line, good coordination and poor timing of runs from Spanish forwards resulted in 6 offside calls inside the first 36 mins, with Amaiur alone getting caught offside 4 times.

The right hand side dynamics between Aitana, Lucia and Ona Batlle were amusing to watch, as all three players tried to make similar inside diagonal runs, resulting in a lack of cover on that side, albeit this the combination was threatening. For Australia, Gorry looked the most threatening presence and worked really hard off the ball to close down and win possession back.

Spain were reduced to long range efforts in the opening half until a delightful goal from Aitana from outside the box broke the deadlock. The Barcelona’s midfielder showcased excellent first touch and managed to curl the ball in the far corner right before half-time.

Both teams made a couple of changes in the 2nd half. Esther came on to replace Amaiur while goalscorer, Aitana, was replaced by Irene Guerrero. Australia made a change in goal replacing Tegan Micah with Mackenzie Arnold, who ended up having a forgetful night in goal.

Esther’s introduction instantly improved Spain’s attack. She brought her tireless nature to the Spanish press while regularly threatening in behind. Spain were quick to add to their tally when Mariona scored a wondergoal from a similar range on the opposite side in 48th minute.

Esther quickly stamped her name onto the scoresheet from a corner situation, where she got ahead of Polkinghorne to slot the ball home in the 53rd minute. She continued to influence the game by pulling CBs to create space for others or by drifting ball side to offer support.

Spain looked very threatening in the opening 15 minutes of the 2nd half, generating 4 corners compared to just 1 in the first half. Lucia scored her first in the 58th minute following some fantastic work by Mariona, who had a splendid night, being directly involved in 3 out of 4 of Spain’s opening goals.

Athenea was brought on in the 62nd minute to replace Mariona, she tried too hard to impress and went for extra inventiveness to create magic which didn’t come off that often. Zornoza came on the 69th minute to replace Alexia, while Ivana was replaced by Pereira at the same time. Teresa made a 15 minute cameo in place of Patri, as she slotted into that deepest midfielder role.

Australia switched to a 4-2-3-1 to close the game and this change allowed Cortnee Vine to push forwards and showcase her abilities. The Sydney FC winger looked threatening on occasions but nothing came off it.

Lucia scored her second of the game after a great first touch and powerful shot in the box after a failed clearance fell at her feet. Irene Guerrero added salt to wounds when she scored a header in the 89th minute off a cross from Leila, making an unmarked run at the far post from midfield.

Spain’s final goal stemmed from positive contribution by Athenea on the left, as she crossed the ball in. Esther managed to control the ball behind her and lay it off for Irene Guerrero, who took an excellent first touch to generate space and curled it in, making it 7-0 for the night.

Zornoza couldn’t showcase her crossing or deliveries from set-pieces in her time on the pitch but offered support and played some crisp exchanges on the left. Teresa helped recycle possession and move it forward but didn’t get to do much.

Irene Paredes acertó 118 pases ante Australia y es el número más alto de conexiones certeras de una jugadora de España en un partido desde el comienzo de 2021, superando a Patri con 111 ante Alemania. Además dio una asistencia.

— Tony ⚡ (@xGisfornerds) June 25, 2022

Spain’s CBs were given ample time on the ball to circulate possession and pick their passes. Irene Paredes completed 118 passes in the game, the most by any Spanish player in a game since 2021. She also picked up the assist for the opening goal by Aitana, playing a line breaking pass onto the feet of the Spanish midfielder.

Spain will now face Italy on 1st of July in their final game before their opener against Finland on the 8th of July.

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