The Nations League Final Four may only be a bite-sized mini-tournament, but this week’s action still provided a reminder of one of the game’s most enduring truths – it is strikers that win matches.
France beat Spain 2-1 in Sunday’s final at the San Siro stadium with goals coming from two of the finest forwards in the modern game – Karim Benzema, who struck a beautiful shot into the corner and Kylian Mbappe who showed outstanding composure for the winner.
In contrast to the world champions’ clinical finishing, Spain had dominated the opening 45 minutes, enjoying two thirds of the ball possession but, playing without a recognised striker, they barely tested France keeper Hugo Lloris.
With first-choice centre forwards Alvaro Morata and Gerard Moreno missing this week’s games due to injury, Spain coach Luis Enrique had opted against bringing in a ‘pure’ striker.
The absence of a real ‘number nine’ was barely noticed in Wednesday’s 2-1 semi-final win over Italy, where winger Ferran Torres was given a central role and scored both the team’s goals.
But against the French, Torres was moved back to his preferred position on the right of a three-pronged forward line and not only was he less effective in that position, without him Spain lacked a central presence.—Agencies