With the 2018 World Cup on the horizon, international friendlies on Tuesday helped set the stage for upcoming competition. Spain showed why they may be one of the teams to beat in Russia, delivering the Argentinian national team one of their worst defeats in history, and Brazil helped put to rest any ideas that Germany might be unstoppable.
Led by a hat trick on home turf from Real Madrid attacking midfielder Isco, Spain put forth an impressive 6-1 victory over Argentina.
Complementing Isco’s offensive clinic, Iago Aspas, Diego Costa, and Thiago Alcantara added one goal each to the total. Nicolas Otamendi scored the only consolation goal for the Argentinians.
Spain ‘Slaps’ Argentina for Six Goals
The five-goal margin of defeat tied the worst ever loss for Argentina’s national team. The fact that Lionel Messi sat out with a hamstring injury meant that the Argentinians weren’t playing with a full complement of their best players. Still, coach Jorge Sampaoli admitted that the result was an eye-opener.
“We have to take charge of this game, these things cannot happen to us at the World Cup,” Sampaoli told reporters after the match. “Spain have slapped us, we have to keep working.”
Spain are now unbeaten in their last 18 games. They will play just twice more before the World Cup begins, facing off against Switzerland and Tunisia before they meet Portugal for their first game of the tournament on June 15.
While it was just one game, the result impacted what bettors are thinking about both Spain and Argentina heading into the World Cup. At Ladbrokes, Spain saw its World Cup championship odds shorten to just 6/1, making them equal third choice with France behind Brazil (9/2) and Germany (9/2). Meanwhile, Argentina fell to 9/1 following the disastrous loss.
Brazil Gets Revenge Against Germany
The two co-favorites at Ladbrokes also squared off on Tuesday, with Brazil getting the best of Germany in Berlin. Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal on a header late in the first half, giving the visitors a 1-0 victory over the defending World Cup champions.
For Brazil, the game offered a measure of redemption. In 2014, Germany humiliated the Brazilians in their World Cup semifinal encounter, defeating the host team 7-1 in one of the worst drubbings a world-class team had ever taken in the tournament.
“This has a huge psychological meaning – no-one needs to fool themselves about that,” said Brazilian coach Tite before Tuesday’s friendly. “The 7-1 is like a ghost, people still talk about it. The more you talk about it, the less this ghost disappears. The wound is still open and the match in Berlin is a part of the process of closing it.”
The loss was the first for Germany in 22 games. Their last defeat came in the Euro 2016 semifinals, when France defeated the Germans 2-0.
The French also scored a solid victory on Tuesday, beating World Cup hosts Russia 3-1 in St. Petersburg. France was led by Kylian Mbappe, who scored twice in their victory.
Other high-profile results from Tuesday included a 1-1 draw between Italy and England (14/1 to win the World Cup), and a convincing 6-0 win for Switzerland (100/1) over Panama (1000/1).