surinenglish

Spain defeat Tunisia in last friendly before World Cup

Isco's late goal won the match for Spain.
Isco's late goal won the match for Spain. / SUR
  • A goal from Aspas in the 84th minute sealed the win for Spain after a lacklustre performance

Just before kick-off between Spain and Tunisia, the panoramic screen in the Krasnodar stadium displayed a video of two armies charging against each other. "It's time for battle" it said in Spanish. Unfortunately, this sentiment of epic struggle was not felt by the players. Although the game was only a friendly, there was very little to praise in Spain's performance, excluding the goal. Let's hope that the result doesn't mean anything for Julen Lopetegui's side in the coming World Cup.

Iago Aspas, who came on as Spain's final substitution in the closing stages of the match, made sure that the match would not end as a stalemate. His goal had an important symbolic value. Of the three strikers Spain is taking to Russia, he has the most goals and has adapted best to playing for a national side, rather than a club side.

It was Lopetegui himself who chose Tunisia for Spain's last friendly before the tournament begins, largely because of its similarities with Morocco. However, it seemed that he had underestimated the North African side, which turned out to be a very well disciplined side with a great deal of physical power (seven of their players are over 1.9m tall) and a simple but effective play style.

Iniesta evades a sliding tackle from Skhiri.

Iniesta evades a sliding tackle from Skhiri. / SUR

The team sat back for much of the match but often looked threatening on the counter-attack. They missed a gift of a goal early in the second half when Sliti volleyed over from inside the six-yard box. In contrast, Spain did not have their first shot on target until the 65th minute. Spain's winning goal was the work of two clever substitutes. Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa, who broke powerfully into space, crossed the ball in to Aspas, whose shot went underneath Tunisia goalkeeper Mathlouthi.

The result shows that Spain, 2010 World Cup victors and undefeated in their last twenty matches, are a vulnerable side after all. Tunisia is one of the weakest teams in this year's World Cup, and although they are likely to qualify from Group B (Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Iran), Spain will have to perform better than this to progress to the later stages of the tournament.