La Roja kicked off their World Cup qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022 this evening. Luis Enrique’s men welcomed Greece to Los Carmenes hoping to retain their record of having never lost a World Cup qualifier at home. They succeeded in that, but failed to secure the victory they so-desired, drawing 1-1 instead.
Luis Enrique went for a 4-3-3 shape, with Unai Simon in goal. Marcos Llorente, Eric Garcia, Sergio Ramos and Jose Luis Gaya made up the back four, protected by a midfield three of Koke, Rodri and Sergio Canales. Alvaro Morata led the line, flanked by Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres.
La Roja came into the game in a good mood. They finished top of their group in the qualification phase for Euro 2020, five points clear of Sweden and nine clear of Norway. They also finished top of their Nations League group, pipping Germany by two points.
La Roja started brightly but struggled to create clear openings in the early stages, until shortly after the half-hour mark. Koke found Morata in the area after some nice build-up play, with the Juventus forward finishing expertly to put Spain ahead. Greece equalised shortly before the hour mark, however, when Athletic Bilbao’s Inigo Martinez, on for Ramos at half-time, conceded a penalty that Tasos Bakasetas happily converted, stealing a point.
“The penalty is a pivotal moment and it’s cost us dearly,” Martinez said as carried by Marca. “I’m not happy. A draw wasn’t what we deserved. With VAR the result would have been different. The ball had split and I couldn’t stop it, I tried to remove my leg, but my opponent was ready and he stayed on the ground. What’s strange is that [the referee] whistled after six seconds.”