Spain vs. Costa Rica: Gavi and Ferran Torres shine as Spain defeats Costa Rica

Spain started with teenagers Gavi and Pedri flanking 34-year-old Sergio Busquets in midfield in Spain’s 4-3-3 formation. The biggest surprise was Manchester City’s Rodri, who started as a centre-back while real centre-backs like Eric Garcia watched from the bench.

Costa Rica started with a flat 4-4-2 formation, playing with two blocks of four and hoping to stifle the Spanish creativity in midfield. Spoiler alert, it didn’t work at all.

Costa Rica were forewarned when Pedri found Dani Olmo free in the box after just four minutes, but the RB Leipzig man shook his lines and let Costa Rica off the hook.

Spain eventually defeated Costa Rica with a masterful combination of quick passing and swift movement, and Olmo ended a masterful passing movement with a brilliant lob over attacking Keylor Navas to put them 1-0 ahead after just 11 minutes.

Spain continued to treat the ball as their personal property, enjoying up to 85% possession in the first 20 minutes.

A one-time goal from Marco Asensio after a lovely Jordi Alba cross in the 21st minute put the finishing touches to further flowing Costa Rican passing and gave Keylor Navas no chance to stop it.

The Spaniards didn’t seem to let up as they continued to challenge the Costa Rican team with their pass-move-pass philosophy, punching holes in opponents’ defenses at will.

It seemed like there was nothing Costa Rica could do to stop Spain from doing what they wanted with the ball. When they found a way to stop Spain, it was a foul on Jordi Alba in the penalty area, giving Spain a chance to score their third game on penalties.

Ferran Torres had the opportunity with the resulting penalty and he swung home from the point, sending Navas the wrong way.

With Torres’ goal, Spain became the first team to score three goals in the first 31 minutes of the World Cup, with no other team to date having scored more than once in the first 30 minutes of their game at the World Cup.

Torres’ goal was also Spain’s 100th World Cup goal as they joined an elite list of teams including Brazil and Argentina. The only other side to score three goals ahead of Spain in the first half was England and their final score against Iran must send shivers down the Costa Rican’s spine because they shut down completely and haven’t played anything even remotely close rest of the first half reminiscent of real football.

In the first half, Spain limited Costa Rica to just 71 completions (70% completion) compared to their own 537 completions (94% completion), and from the start of the second half it looked likely to be the case would be more the same in the closing stages.

That proved to be the case as Torres capitalized on a mix-up between Brian Oviedo and Navas in goal less than 10 minutes into the restart to score a fourth for Spain and a second for himself that night.

With Spain’s work seemingly complete, they opted to show off some of their starting talent ahead of tougher group matches. Torres and Pedri were replaced by Alvaro Morata and Carlos Soler, but these changes did nothing to lessen the Spaniards’ dominance of the game.

Spain also made his debut for Barcelona’s youthful full-back Alejandro Balde, who replaced Jordi Alba, who put on a brilliant game, provided an assist and won the penalty.

Costa Rica, meanwhile, brought Kendal Watson and Bryan Ruiz, who became the oldest Costa Rican player to play at the World Cup.

There were no real changes in the flow of play as Spain continued to dominate, eventually adding to their tally with a superb Gavi strike from outside the box.

Gavi was brilliant for Spain, contributing to two goals before finally capping it with his brilliant goal as he became the youngest player to score for Spain. On the same day, he became the youngest player to play for Spain at the World Cup.

Although some of their seniors were rested for future games, Spain still didn’t lose quality and as they slowed the pace of the game they still found a way to improve their record with a relaxed finish from Soler, putting it down after 90 minutes to 6:0.

Morata rounded off the goal with a skillful finish from the edge of the box to make it 7-0, breaking Spain’s record for the biggest win in a World Cup game. In the end, Costa Rica failed to get a single shot in 98 minutes of play, while Spain had 16 shots on target and seven on target, beating veteran goalkeeper Navas with all of them. Expected full-time goals? 3.48 for Spain and 0.00 for Costa Rica.

Costa Rica meet Japan next and after the Blue Samurai shocked Germany in a 2-1 win it would be hard to see Costa Rica getting anything out of the game.

Spain’s next game is against Germany and a win for them could see them qualify for the next round and possibly knock Germany out of the World Cup for the second tournament in a row in the group stage.


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