Unai Simon maintains La Roja
Unai Simon, Spain’s goalkeeper, made five saves throughout the match, which was a significant factor in preventing Portugal from scoring the game’s first goal and keeping Spain in it. The goalie for Bilbao allowed La Roja to remain optimistic about his team’s prospects right up until the game’s final whistle. Even though his defense was having trouble coming together, he was able to reassure his raisers with confidence. The most serious opportunities came for Portugal in the first half, but both Ruben Neves (in the 23rd) and Diogo Jota (in the 33rd) had their shots on goal saved by Unai Simon. In the second act, he showed Cristiano Ronaldo and Nuno Mendes no mercy by fouling them in the 47th and 56th minutes, respectively, before making a final parade with his knees on CR7 (90th). If not for Simon, Portugal almost certainly would have punched their ticket to the championship game.
The changes made by Luis Enrique
At the hour mark, Luis Enrique made substitutions that helped Spain to get their foot on the ball, reclaim control, and rebuild their streak in the middle of the field. These substitutions were Pedro, Gavi, and Pino. After the three substitutions, Spain has five shots, all of which have been on target. However, Portugal had gotten off to a great start in the second half by installing a very high pressing, which immediately provoked possibilities for Cristiano Ronaldo (in the 47th minute), Nuno Mendes (in the 56th minute), and Carvalho (69th). Nico Williams, the Athletic striker who came on in place of de Ferran Torres in the 70th minute, was instrumental in Spain’s lone goal of the match by returning the ball to Morata with a header. This choice, which was ultimately made by Enrique, was the icing on the cake for Spain’s real tactical dominance tonight (88th).
Portugal’s lack of realism
Who emerged victorious from this conference—Spain or Portugal, which fell short on its own? Most likely, a combination of the two. The Selec’o had many opportunities, and even though Unai Simon played exceptionally well, the Portuguese attackers should have been able to find a way through the defense much sooner. Diogo Jota turned in an outstanding and productive performance, providing Cristiano Ronaldo with quality passes and making sound judgments. Even if he did not score, he played the team card and looked for ways to help his teammates solve their problems. This latter strategy was not terrible. Despite this, Bernardo Silva was unable to keep up with his other two teammates, as he was responsible for numerous lost balls and was away from the majority of tense moments. It has never been possible for Portugal to modify the offensive animation it uses.
The Spanish late awakening
It is difficult to criticize the performance of Spain too much given that La Roja was successful in beating Portugal on Tuesday evening to steal the qualification ticket to the Final Four. But it was arduous for a significant portion of the game: Portugal dominated the action for more than an hour against a hazy Roja that was unable to get real clear chances. They struggled to project themselves into the future, and the majority of the possibilities that they had were fruitless. A team like Spain, which also needed to be offensively quick to qualify for the Final Four, should have been far more steady and regular in their performance.