Madrid: Two-time defending champions Spain finished their Euro 2016 preparations in the worst possible way, suffering a shock defeat, losing 1-0 at home to Georgia in their final warm-up friendly in Madrid on Tuesday, before heading to France.
Georgia, ranked 137 in the world, hadn't won a game since defeating minnows Gibraltar in Euro qualifying in October, while Tuesday's defeat was Spain's first since March 2015. However, the visitors defended resolutely and took full advantage of their one real attack, when Tornike Okriashvili tapped home at the far post six minutes before half-time.
Spain begin their quest for a third consecutive European Championship against the Czech Republic on 13 June in Toulouse. "We have to accept it and lift ourselves for what is to come," said Spain boss Vicente del Bosque. "This result shouldn't make us in any way face the Euros with a sense of fear."
Del Bosque had named a stronger side than for Spain's comfortable wins over Bosnia and Herzegovina and South Korea in the past week, with the Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid contingent returning after their duties in the Champions League final.
The hosts were camped in the Georgia half for almost the entire match, but paid for a lack of creativity in breaking down the visitors' mass ranks of defence and were caught out on the counter-attack just before the break.
"We wanted to build on our confidence and create a good atmosphere, but it wasn't to be and it has been a disappointment," del Bosque said. "We didn't play terribly badly because they scored a goal on the counter-attack. We were unable to break down a very well-organised defence and were lacking in the final third."
However, del Bosque rejected suggestions that the Czechs and Spain's other Group D opponents Turkey and Croatia can learn from Georgia's gameplan. "I would like us to always play in the opposition's half," he said. "Hopefully in our three (group) games, it will be like this."
Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez impressed early on as he made his international debut, and from his cross Aritz Aduriz was inches away from opening the scoring with a bullet header that flew just wide. Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara then struck the post from outside the box as Spain continued to press.
However, they were caught out when captain for the evening Sergio Ramos was slow to react to Jordi Alba's pass to spring a Georgia break from which Valeri Kazaishvili's low cross was turned home by Okriashvili.
Del Bosque reacted by making four changes at the break with Barcelona's Andres Iniesta among those introduced. David Silva then replaced Vazquez on the hour mark and the hosts created far more with their two principal playmakers on the field.
Iniesta and Nolito fired just wide before Jordi Alba mishit his effort from close range straight into the midriff of substitute Georgian goalkeeper Roini Kvaskhvadze. Yet, despite seven minutes of stoppage time being added on by Icelandic referee Vilhjalmur Thorarinsson, Spain's search for an equaliser petered out as they suffered defeat for the first time in 12 matches.
Published Date: Jun 08, 2016 10:24 am | Updated Date: Jun 10, 2016 06:08 pm