Spain slumber to stalemate

A new-look Spain failed to impress against Romania as they were held to a goalless draw during Sunday’s pre-Euro 2016 friendly in Cluj.

Vicente del Bosque made 10 changes to the Spain XI from Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Italy as Iker Casillas was named in goal ahead of Sergio Rico and Sergi Roberto and Koke forged a double pivot, with La Roja lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Romania, meanwhile, went with Cordoba and La Segunda striker Florin Andone in attack and former Zaragoza and Elche man Cristian Sapunaru at right-back, although there was no space in the Tricolorii’s line-up for third ex-Spanish-based player Raul Rusescu.

The hosts – unbeaten since June 2014 and also due to feature at Euro 2016 – tried to play Spain at their own game by pressing high up the pitch and looking to attack as soon as they won the ball back, and Adrian Popa carved out the game’s first chance as he dragged a shot just wide of Iker Casillas.

Nonetheless, Spain’s front four exhibited imagination and chemistry in their play on occasions, Paco Alcacer racing onto a ball over the top and attracting Ciprian Tatarusanu, who charged off his line and just about managed to pip the striker to the chase.

David Silva then won a free kick around 25 yards from the Romania goal, and a header on the end of the midfielder’s set-piece forced Tatarusanu into a fingertip save over his crossbar, before the Manchster City man played a lovely interchange with Koke and then Marc Bartra, but Pedro Rodriguez’s close-range finish was denied by the feet of the goalkeeper.

However, Jordi Alba encountered a few problems down the left as Nicusor Stanciu’s volley from just outside the visitors’ D after he came inside was turned around the left-hand post by Casillas, before the midfielder forced the custodian into another stop as he unleashed another effort from the same flank.

A slew of substitutions from either side made for a disjointed second half, to the extent Pique came closest to scoring as positive wing play from Pedro produced a corner, which gifted the defender a free shot at goal in the box, although Tatarusanu quickly made up for his parried stop.

Andone, meanwhile, was busy proving his worth at the highest level, and he could have grabbed a goal against his parent club’s nation when he pulled off his marker in the visitors’ box and let the ball roll across his body, before smashing a low shot just wide.

Koke was then left for dead as a ball was played through to substitute Rusescu in bundles of space, but the striker foolishly tried to lob Casillas – who extended his clean-sheet run to over 800 minutes – from 40 yards out instead of playing in a teammate either side of him.

Alvaro Morata was a late introduction, with Del Bosque switching to a two-striker system in a bid to find a late winner, and Sapunaru appeared to obstruct the Juventus man just inside the Romania box, but the latter made a meal of going to ground, before he sliced a shot from a promising position wide at the death.

HT: Romania 0-0 Spain

Romania: Tatarusanu; Sapunaru, Chiriches, Grigore, Filip; Pintilii (Ropotan 90), Hoban; Popa (Torje 61), Stanciu (Sanmartean 85), Stancu (Ivan 66); Andone (Rusescu 74)

Spain: Casillas; Mario, Pique (Nacho 52), Bartra, Alba; Sergi (Fabregas 60), Koke; Pedro (Mata 67), Silva (Morata 67), Nolito (Isco 46); Alcacer (Aduriz 60)

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