Luis Enrique’s Spain are just one point away from qualification to the 2022 World Cup knockout stages thanks to a 1-1 draw against Germany in Al-Khor on Sunday. A fiercely competitive match between two great teams ended with a point for each side, and La Roja will advance to the Round of 16 if they avoid defeat to Japan in the group finale. Six Barcelona players featured on the night, and Jordi Alba got his second assist of the tournament.
The game was very competitive and intense from the start, with Spain having most of the possession but struggling to get out of the German press, and there were plenty of challenges and hard tackles all around the pitch.
Germany tried to play from the back when they had the ball but also had trouble with La Roja’s high press, and most of the game was contested in midfield with a few solid moments in attack for both sides.
Spain had the most dangerous moment of the first half-hour thanks to a rocket from Dani Olmo that hit the crossbar after a brilliant save from Manuel Neuer, but Germany also came close with a shot from Serge Gnabry that went just wide.
The very best chance of the half for Spain came in the 33rd minute when Olmo’s cross found Ferran Torres all alone inside the box, but the Barça man fired over the bar and missed what should have been the opening goal.
Germany almost took the lead in the 40th minute with a header by Antonio Rüdiger on a free-kick, but the defender was narrowly offside and the goal was ruled out by VAR. The halftime whistle came to end a very even game, and both teams felt like they had a real chance of winning going into the second half.
The start of the second half had very little meaningful action as neither side was willing to take too many risks, but Germany had a big early chance when Unai Simón gave the ball away inside his own box and then had to make a big save on a shot from Leon Goretzka.
Then in the 62nd minute, a game-changer: Jordi Alba got his second assist in two games with a perfect cross to find Álvaro Morata inside the box, and the subtitute scored with his second touch of the game to put Spain in front.
The result meant Germany had no choice but to throw everything forward to try and rescue at least a point to stay alive, and that left them wide open at the back and vulnerable to one Spain counter-attack after another as we reached the final 20 minutes.
Jamal Musiala should have made it 1-1 when he found himself one-on-one with Simón in the 73rd minute, but the Athletic Bilbao keeper stood strong and made a big save. That was the best moment the Germans had for a while as Spain did a good job of keeping possession, but a rare mistake cost them: a bad pass from Aymeric Laporte started a Germany counter, and the ball fell to substitute Niclas Füllkrug who fired home the equalizer.
The Germans knew a point was enough to keep them alive in the group, so they didn’t commit too many players forward in the final minutes and looked to stay organized while Spain took initiative and looked for the winner. La Roja couldn’t produce any meaningful offense, and Germany came very close to creating a real chance to win the game at least twice in stoppage time.
But no other goals were scored, and the final whistle came to give each team a point in an awesome game. Spain are one point away from moving on, and Germany will qualify with a two-goal win over Costa Rica in the group finale as long as Japan don’t beat Spain. We are in for a great finish in Group E.
Spain: Simón; Carvajal, Rodri, Laporte, Alba (Balde 82’); Gavi (Williams 66’), Busquets, Pedri; Ferran (Morata 54’), Asensio (Koke 66’), Olmo
Goal: Morata (62’)
Germany: Neuer; Kehrer (Klostermann 70’), Süle, Rüdiger, Raum (Schlotterbeck 87’); Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry (Hofmann 85’), Gundogan (Sané 70’), Musiala; Müller (Füllkrug 70’)
Goal: Füllkrug (83’)