Spain rounded off 2018 with a narrow 1-0 victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina on Sunday evening.
A goal from debutante Brais Mendez proved to be the difference between the two sides, after Spain struggled for much of the match to break down a sturdy Bosnia & Herzegovina defence.
The first half was largely uneventful, with neither side able to fashion themselves a clear cut opportunity. Spain dictated possession, but they found it very difficult to break down a resolute Bosnia & Herzegovina defence which set itself up well to deal with Spain’s oppressive passing.
Spain had two decent chances to open the scoring late on the half but both ended up being wasted. First, Isco forced Ibrahim Sehic into a comfortable save from just inside the 18 yard box before Marco Asensio guided a header wide of the mark two minutes before the interval.
One minute in to the second half, the hosts had another decent opportunity to take the lead, but Alvaro Morata headed the ball well over the bar from close range. Morata’s woes continued just before the hour mark when he inexplicably managed to miss an open goal after the ball was spilled into his path by Sehic following a decent strike from Marco Asensio.
Pressure began to mount on the Bosnia & Herzegovina goal and their resilience was finally broken with ten minute left on the clock when Brais Mendez reacted quickest to a rifle the ball home after Sahic parried Isco’s shot straight into the Celta Vigo man’s path.
That proved to be the final action of the game, with Spain settling for the one goal advantage to sign off 2018 with a win.
Key Talking Point
Spain received heavy criticism for their inability to translate possession into goals during the 2018 World Cup and those same problems seem to be persisting, despite a change in both management and personnel.
La Roja looked sluggish with the ball and their seemed to be a reluctance to take risks in the final third. On far too many occasions, players who are capable of producing the spectacular took the easy option which led to the ball being broken down easily by the Bosnia & Herzegovina defence.
They earned the win, which is a fair result given the fact that Bosnia & Herzegovina failed to cause them any real problems at the other end of the pitch, but it was far from a convincing display.
Starting XI: Kepa (6); Jonny (6), Hermoso (6), Llorente (6), Gaya (6); Rodri (6), Ceballos (5), Suso (5); Asensio (6), Isco (7*); Morata (3).
Star Man – No one was outstanding for Spain, but Isco’s second half performance deserves some credit as it seemed to lift his side when they were struggling for inspiration in the final third.
The Real Madrid man was at the heart of anything promising from a Spain perspective and he was directly involved in the goal, when his powerful shot could only be spilled by Sahic in the Bosnia & Herzegovina goal.
Very good second half from Isco. Been so much more disciplined with his positioning and looked positive when on the ball. Plays so much better with a decent system #EspanaBosnia
— Anuj Balaji (@raul_is_king) November 18, 2018
Isco has been untouchable for the last 10 or 15 mins
— Ilyas (@Ilyas_Abshir) November 18, 2018
Worst Player – Alvaro Morata is one of the most curious cases in world football at the moment. One minute he’s banging in a brace for Chelsea in the Premier League, the next he’s managing to spurn every opportunity that comes his way.
He had two golden chances in the second half to put his side ahead, but he put both wide of the target. The second summed up his game perfectly, as he managed to trip over his own feet when attempting to bundle the ball into an empty net.
Ok I had to see what Morata just did. Did he really trip in front of an open goal?
— sic (@realftmadrid) November 18, 2018
Ah that miss from Morata was dreadful. Really more difficult to miss than to score.
— Robbie Dunne (@robbiejdunne) November 18, 2018
Spain will now have to wait until March 2019 before they are next in competitive action when they get their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign underway.