A hurricane. It was Spain at the opening of the World Cup to the misfortune of Canada, scratched by the offensive and resolute play of Adrian Lock’s team, as efficient in corners as they are efficient in attack. History said the Canadiens had a six-to-four advantage in head-to-head matches, which was a selection to consider even if it was defensive. But Spain, which plays at home (in Terrassa and in front of some 3,000 supporters), has decided otherwise. And he did it big.
The duel has already started well from the draw, as captain María López guessed the side of the coin and chose the field. Ball in play and declaration of intent as soon as it starts because for one minute and 20 seconds the red sticks possession was split, side to side, though shallow. The talented Gigi Oliva was almost always in charge of this, acting as glue with the lead, from above or below, drawing passes that almost always sought to uncheck Belén Iglesias. Like in that free kick he took with a whipped pass – sliding the stick across the floor – that Belén barely extended into the box. But between little and nothing Canada was able to reply, clumsy in the preparation, sterile in the race and nil in the shooting. The ball was Spanish and so were the chances, driven by sprints and breaks from Lucía Jiménez, who won gold with every incursion she made, also from Belén Iglesias, a torment to the Canadian defense for her rebellion and his skill.
One, two and three times in a row, Xantal Giné proved it with his chained shots from penalty-corners. But he didn’t get away with it, deflected a shot, the defense and the goalkeeper succeeded. But in the fourth, also on the run, Xanti’s shot – as it is called in the locker room – was deflected by a rival stick and picked up by Belén Iglesias, who threw herself to the ground to sign the first goal, so that the public address would thunder my big night by Raphaël, song chosen for the festivities. It wouldn’t even be the last time.
Hannah Haugh, the attacker with the most bite in Canada, was struggling against windmills, the only one to generate danger with her conduct, at least a penalty corner. But there was no tutía in front of a whole Spain, far superior in all facets of the game. None, in any case, as in the corners, because that is how two more goals came. One was, of course, from Xantal, which almost did not break and burn the nets in style Olivier and Benji; the other, in her first shot, dry and tight, was from María López. But Spain had more and, in a play where the pieces came together -María López from the root, acceleration from Gigi and cross from Lucía Jiménez-, Begoña García put the stick to close the first act with a landslide as authoritative as he was expressive.
Canada tried to recover by stretching the lines a little, but didn’t have the ingenuity to break Spain, putting in trouble the goalkeeper (anonymous last night) Laura Barrios. The Spanish coach also rotated and distributed efforts and minutes and the pace dropped, although Xantal came close to scoring another goal from a corner. Only a spectacular save from Faiczak prevented him from doing so. And more of the same happened in the final quarter, although Karli Johansen beat debutante Jana Martínez in a penalty corner to make up for the result against a Spain who already had their next game in sight – this Sunday. at 9:30 p.m.- , in the electrifying duel against the Argentinian Las Leonas, one of the big favorites.
“where legends are made [donde se hacen las leyendas]“, could we read on the tartan which surrounded the field of blue grass, the stadium in which the Spanish team won, in 1992, its only gold medal at the Olympic Games. Now it’s the World Cup and it’s unclear where this team will end up, but at the start they had an appetizer of caviar and oysters in their mouths, a game that places them as one of the teams to take into account in the fight for medals. Canada already knows this.
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