Draw with Switzerland leaves Spain with more questions than answers

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-04 20:01:04|Editor: mmm
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MADRID, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Spain began their preparations for the World Cup finals with a slightly disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Switzerland on Sunday. It is hard to draw many firm conclusions from a game where Real Madrid duo Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos failed to appear and Marco Asensio, Nacho and Lucas Vazquez were restricted to coming off the bench.

However some things did become a bit clearer in the Estadio de la Ceramica.

Firstly, the Spanish are going to seek to pressure their rivals high up the pitch, looking to force errors in distribution and capitalize on them quickly. The Spanish dominated the ball in Villarreal on Sunday, finishing the game with 62 percent possession and with most of the play in the Swiss half. However coach Julen Lopetegui will be disappointed with the number of dangerous shots his side managed to get on target. Spain only managed to direct four shots (including Alvaro Odriozola's goal) between the posts.

Lopetegui said beforehand that he had still not decided who should play in attack when Spain kick off against Portugal on June 15 and Sunday's game didn't make his final decision any easier. He began with Diego Costa partnering Iago Aspas with Aspas replaced by Lucas Vazquez at halftime and Rodrigo Moreno then coming on for Costa as the second half progressed.

Costa is a powerful figure when leading the line well and he is also trouble for rival central defenders. However, he lacks the mobility that Aspas, Rodrigo Moreno, Vazquez and Marco Asensio (another second half sub), as well as Andres Iniesta and David Silva can provide and it was after Costa left the pitch that the Spanish attack started to look more fluid.

The Spanish have played matches under Lopetegui without a central striker before and Sunday's friendly hinted they may do so again in the near future.

Lopetegui has one more friendly against Tunisia on June 9 to help him make his final decision and he could well start with Moreno up front and Vazquez and Asensio out wide.

Barcelona's Sergio Busquets was another absentee on Sunday and although Spain still had few problems controlling possession, his absence also made it clear that he has no direct replacement.

It is not easy to replace Busquets and Barcelona also struggle when he is out, but neither of Lopetegui's two options (Thiago Alcantara and Koke) looked happy in the role, given that they play their best football further up the park. If anything happens to Busquets in Russia, Lopetegui could regret not calling Asier Illaramendi or Rodrigo Fernandez into his squad.

Spain defended well without Ramos, with Cesar Azpilicueta showing his adaptability when he partnered Pique in central defense, but the Spanish will be annoyed that a bad error from David de Gea allowed the Swiss to capitalize on the only chance they created.

Sunday's game was very much a friendly and perhaps that didn't help the Spanish, who need to keep the pace high in order for their pressing game to work. Lopetegui will be looking for more against Tunisia and then he will have some tough decisions to make, especially in attack.