Germany 1-1 Spain
A clash of two giants was always worth watching – whether that be in a World Cup, European Championship or yes, even the more low-key platform of the UEFA Nations League.
This was certainly the case as two nations, both with a slight new-look, battled it out in Stuttgart for a deserved share of the spoils.
As for the verdict? Well, look what money can buy you!
Highlights of the game
Among three newbies in the home squad, Atalanta left-back Robin Gosens was handed his first cap from the start, while Spain boss Luis Enrique – looking to make the most of Spain’s young talent – handed new Manchester City man Ferran Torres his international debut with Barcelona teenager Ansu Fati also making his international bow for La Roja straight after half-time.
However, it was Chelsea’s new £54 million signing who many onlookers were talking about at the end of this one.
He had been quiet for long spells but, nine minutes after the restart, Gosens laid the ball back to the marksman and he skipped past two opponents before firing a classy low finish beyond David De Gea.
It was a goal which showed his undoubted class and perhaps will be a sign of things to come in the Premier League this season.
It may also lift some of the pressure on national boss Joachim Low, seemingly on his last hurrah after he somehow managed to survive the embarrassment of a World Cup exit at the hands of South Korea two summers ago.
His pre-match comments about Spain though – in which he highlighted their danger while stressing their playing style had drifted away from what made them so successful in previous years – was to come back to haunt him with virtually the last kick of the match.
Aside from the Werner goal, there were plenty of other UEFA Nations League highlights in an entertaining contest.
The first chance arrived for the hosts in the 11th minute, but De Gea was equal to Thilo Kehrer’s header.
Play quickly went down the other end and Rodrigo had to be denied, at the second time of asking, by goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
Next, it was De Gea’s turn to be called into action again, keeping out Leroy Sane who had to leave the fray on the hour with an injury in his first outing for a year since rupturing his cruciate ligament.
Play continued end-to-end and Trapp kept out Sergio Busquets and then, on the stroke of half-time, stopped Rodrigo with his feet.
The excitement continued into the second half and, even after Werner’s strike, there were chances at both ends.
Thiago went close for Spain, De Gea superbly tipped a Niklas Sule header over the crossbar while Antonio Rudiger missed a great chance to seal the victory two minutes from time.
It was to come back to bite the hosts as, deep in stoppage time, Rodrigo headed the ball down and Valencia defender Jose Gaya poked the ball past Trapp.
That was that and it’s honours even after the opening match of the UEFA Nations League.
Both nations will have senior players to return, particularly Germany whose team was largely deprived of stars from Bayern Munich following their Champions League triumph in Portugal 11 days ago.
Spain, who convincingly reached Euro 2020, have some senior players to return too and a look at the SBOTOP UEFA Nations League betting odds suggest both these nations will be among the favourites as this tournament progresses.
Fati has become the 800th player to play for Spain since their first match in August 1920 and is the second youngest to play for the nation.
At 17 years and 308 days old, the teenager is behind just Angel Zubieta, who debuted on April 1936 in Prague at 17 years and 283 days old.
Werner’s 12th goal for Germany came in his 30th international appearance.
This was Sule’s 25th cap for Germany on his 25th birthday.
Spain have scored at least once in their last 41 international games, their longest run ever. The last time they failed to score was against Italy in Euro 2016.
Germany edge their all-time head-to-head record with Spain with nine wins to La Roja’s seven. There have also been eight draws between the two nations.
Die Mannschaft have now gone three consecutive games without defeat against Spain.
Both nations quickly move onto their second fixtures in Group D. Germany make the short trip to Switzerland on Sunday night (September 6), while Spain host Ukraine at the same time.
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