A Ferran Torres hat-trick in Seville helped Spain to their finest display under Luis Enrique as they dismantled fellow footballing giants Germany 6-0 in the Nations League, their worst defeat since 1931.
In what was a frighteningly one sided Group A4 encounter where from the first whistle, Spain played Germany off the park showcasing the kind of football that propelled them a decade ago as one of the finest footballing nations ever to grace the game.
Last night in Seville, Luis Enrique’s reached those levels dominating and controlling the game in every area of the pitch, from defence to attack. The high-intensity levels despite the grueling fixture-list, the pressing from the front, the passing, the movement and the intricacy of play meant Spain put in their most pleasing performance since Luis Enrique was first appointed in 2018.
In a repeat of the Euro 2008 final, former Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata headed in Spain’s first goal, before Torres volleyed home emphatically.
Rodri made it three with a guided header, and Torres slotted in a fourth before curling home the fifth. Mikel Oyarzabal’s tap-in after a lovely lobbed pass from Rodri to Jose Gaya rounded a remarkable night for the 2010 World Cup winners.
While Ferran Torres may receive all the plaudits for his emphatic hat-trick, and rightly so, it was first-half substitute Fabian Ruiz who’s performance and influence in almost all of Spain’s highlight reels stole the show.
The 24-year-old only played 78 minutes after coming on for the injured Sergio Canales in the 12th minute and the Napoli star needed no introduction as he immediately added a whole new dynamic in the way Spain performed.
So far this season Fabian Ruiz has failed to perform on a consistent level both for club and country, but against Germany, the uniquely gifted midfielder showcased why he is one of the finest around.
Ruiz is indeed a unique talent, a flamboyant performer who’s work and qualities too often slip under the radar. While we may not know why that is, it could attest to the fact that he doesn’t perform on a consistent level for Napoli. He’s only recorded a single assist for his club in six games this season, for a player of his abilities, he’s got to be putting more numbers on the board.
Against Germany alone, Ruiz recorded 3 assists. The former Real Betis man provided for Alvaro Morata from a corner to notch Spain’s first goal, another corner for Rodri’s header and a fantastic deft flick for Ferran Torres to score his hat-trick.
However, his performance on the night should not be defined by his hat-trick of assists, but the quality of his all-round game.
Fabian Ruiz was everywhere on the pitch.
Whether picking up dangerous pockets of space in between Germany’s midfield and defence, or roaming from his midfield position inside-left, in a Mezzala-like role, his speed of thought and passing was simply immense. It was his pass for Gaya in that position which allowed the Valencia left-back to assist Ferran Torres’ second goal.
Not to put a downer on Sergio Canales’ impact and work in the current squad, but as soon as Ruiz stepped onto the field in his place, Spain stepped it up a notch. 3 assists, 3 key passes, 1 big chance created, 95 touches, and 79 out of 89 accurate passes is only a small measure of the influence Fabian Ruiz had on Luis Enrique’s side.
His understanding of where to be in order to hurt the opposition is a unique quality in his game. Ruiz performs best when he is given the freedom to roam and pick up spaces in which to exploit the opposition’s weakness, he did just that against Germany
The 2014 World Cup winners simply could not live with the movement, passing and vision from the midfielder and that is what Ruiz is known for in Naples.
However, the questions on his consistency and application still remains, can he now carry this sort of form and influence forward for Gennaro Gattuso? Napoli rely on him to deliver week-in, week-out. He certainly holds all the ingredients to become one of the finest midfielders of his generation, if he isn’t already.
If there were any doubts lingering previously about Fabian Ruiz before the UEFA Nations League mauling of Germany, he certainly answered them with such fine vigor and finesse. However, if he is to reach the grandeur levels his abilities promise, Ruiz must carry this sort of form forward.