Spain 1 France 1: Lessons as Giroud rescues a point for Deschamps’ men
Spain 1 France 1: What did we learn as Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud scored a late equaliser at the Vicente Calderón?
Group I leans on return fixture
A wet Warsaw may have curtailed England for the time being, but in Madrid, the world and European champions’ reign looked far from convincing. Olivier Giroud headed home in stoppage time to salvage a late point for France after Sergio Ramos had put Spain 1-0 up in a dynamic contest. All eyes will now be on the game in March when these two face off in search of a vital win that could secure their qualification to the World Cup. Both sides are expected to win all of their other games against Finland, Belarus and Georgia and the group could be decided in France next year. It was a huge game to drop points in for Spain but France’s second-half fightback perhaps deserved a share of the spoils. The draw ends Spain’s 24-game winning streak in qualifying matches and the late goal ends Iker Casillas’ record-equalling run of clean sheets.
Lloris proves his point after mini north London battle
Hugo Lloris’ transfer to Tottenham in the summer raised a few eyebrows, especially as it emerged Brad Friedel would keep his place as the number one keeper. Nevertheless, the France captain’s display against Spain could prove to Andre Villas-Boas that he is good enough to replace the ageing American at White Hart Lane. Lloris made a number of wonderful stops, including an important penalty save from ex-Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fàbregas after current Gunner Laurent Koscielny brought down Pedro in the area. In the end another of Arsene Wenger’s men earned France a hard-fought point but it was largely thanks to a man from the other side of north London who kept France in the game until Giroud’s strike.
Key injuries costly to Madrid and Man City
A trio of injuries to the Real Madrid defence could have drastic effects on how Los Blancos fare in the coming weeks as full-backs Fábio Coentrão, Marcelo and Álvaro Arbeloa face spells on the sidelines. Arbeloa picked up a knock in the France game and is unlikely to feature at the weekend, as did Karim Benzema on the opposing side. The French striker appeared to twist his knee before he was replaced with two minutes remaining (for Giroud) and joins Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain on the list of players injured during the international break. Manchester City were also handed a slice of bad luck, with David Silva stretchered off after 13 minutes with a serious looking knee injury. A number of managers will be unhappy after these internationals but none more so than Jose Mourinho.
Vicente Calderón welcomes emotional Torres
Five years after leaving his beloved Atletico Madrid, Fernando Torres received a hero’s welcome at the ground he once lit up when he came on as a substitute at the Vicente Calderón. Although the game ended on a disappointing note for Torres, he will surely have fond memories from the night. In addition, the Spanish striker has been linked to his boyhood club, rumoured to be part of a swap deal that brings Radamel Falcao to Stamford Bridge. More than likely a lazy rumour linking Torres with a return, it does sounds plausible, especially considering the difficult start to Torres’ Chelsea career.