Day 16: Group A for Awful
Spain and Japan make light work of reaching the quarter-finals
Switzerland 1 - Spain 5
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Well it was try, try, try, try, try again for Spain as they won a knockout fixture at an international tournament at the fifth time of asking. And to be fair to them, they did it in style as they brushed aside a very poor Switzerland team.
Spain’s starting XI caused quite a stir as Jorge Vilda opted to make five changes from the side who were pummelled 4-0 by Japan in their final group game. Alba Redondo, Esther Gonzalez, Oihane Hernandez, Laia Codina and Cata Coll all began this knockout match with those changes at the back perhaps the most shocking. Cata Coll was making her international debut in goal, replacing Misa Rodriguez who could justifiably be fed up with her defence for their role in her four concessions against Japan.
Ultimately, it probably did not matter who Spain played in attack given how poor Switzerland were. They tried to sit back but showed none of the discipline Japan had managed making it easy for Spain to play through their lines. Some of their defending in the penalty area looked like they were running in slo mo and as wonderful as Aitana Bonmati was, she found it far too easy to make it look like she was playing against kids with her feints.
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Intriguingly, Vilda’s switches did make some kind of tactical sense. Using Redondo gave Spain more width than when they play with Mariona whilst Esther stretches the back line more than Jenni does. Oihane was happy to sit back on the right side to enable them to build up in a three with Ona pushing high and wide. What is strange is why Vilda felt unable to make these adjustments with the players who had seemed to be essential parts of his team mere days ago; Olga Carmona wore the captain’s armband against Japan - could Vilda really not explain to her she needed to sit back more?
The foibles of the switches in defence were made clear when Laia Codina amusingly passed the ball past Cata Coll and into the back of her own net. It was a better chance than anything Switzerland were able to create and whilst it had little effect here, it was not the mark of defensive solidity that Spain wanted to prove. We know that Spain can score goals against poor defences; we’re still waiting to see if they can defend against good attacks.
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