Spotlight: Four Barcelona players shine in Spain’s rout of Slovakia
In what was a must-win game for Luis Enrique’s Spain side, La Roja put up a five-star performance against a Slovakia side who had no answer for their quality. Despite an early missed penalty, the Spaniards smashed five past their hapless opponents to secure qualification to the round of 16 at the Euro 2020.
Goals from Pablo Sarabia, Ferran Torres, Aymeric Laporte and two own goals from Slovakia helped Spain clinch second place in the group after two draws in their opening two games of group E. Their progression to the next round was in serious jeopardy, but the three-time Euro champions stepped up when they had to.
In the drubbing, four of Barcelona’s players had a major role. Pedri Gonzalez and Sergio Busquets dictated the tempo for Spain in a midfield masterclass. At the same time, Jordi Alba and new signing Eric Garcia shored up the backline, not allowing their opponents much in the way of attack. Alba also remained threatening as ever going forward.
Pedri was arguably Spain’s best player in the first half, with his relentless pressing and ball progression, he seemed to create something special nearly every time he touched the ball. His outstanding passing ability was also on display and he was perhaps unlucky not to get an assist. The youngster proved just why he has become such a pivotal part of the Blaugrana starting XI.
Sergio Busquets, who returned from a tussle with COVID in the past weeks, put in a brilliant shift and was named Man of the Match for a stellar display. Orchestrating and organizing play from the middle in typically brilliant fashion, Busquets also made two key passes and won five duels out of seven.
Jordi Alba picked up an assist for Spain’s third goal scored by Pablo Sarabia in a goal that also involved Pedri and Busquets crucially in the build up. The width and depth provided by the Barcelona left-back was instrumental once again.
Eric Garcia started alongside Laporte in the heart of defense and remained firm throughout the 71 minutes he played before making way for Pau Torres. The 20-year old completed 70 of his 73 passes with a rock-solid success rate of 96%.