Ferran Torres Andres Iniesta Marco Asensio Dani Olmo Luis Enrique Football Barcelona Spain Costa Rica shooting Ferran Torres Andres Iniesta Marco Asensio Dani Olmo Luis Enrique Football Barcelona Spain Costa Rica

Pedri and Gavi combination marks out Spain’s strength as World Cup challengers

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A fired volley wide by Dani Olmo. Another chance over the top of the defence with Ferran Torres in attendance. Marco Asensio scuffing wide and then Olmo, again, finally beating the ‘keeper after a magical first touch over the final centre-back.This was all Spain, all one-way football and all through the incredibly talented creative duo of Gavi and Pedri in midfield.

And all inside the opening 10 minutes, too.The young Barcelona pair were utterly dominant and relentless in the first half-hour of the match, creating openings and shooting chances at will and contributing in very direct ways to Luis Enrique’s side going three goals up in that time.Above perhaps all other games so far at the World Cup 2022, this scoreline, this performance, will be discounted by the quality - or lack thereof - of opposition.

Costa Rica offered nothing: no aggression high upfield, no capacity to get close in midfield and nowhere near enough of a compact defence to stop the red waves coming.

The eventual 7-0 scoreline was justice, entirely.And yet, even if this was a glorified training session after Asensio’s finish and Ferran from the spot, it highlighted exactly what Spain will try to do against all opponents, in all situations.Rotation of positions, recycling of possession, relentless attempts to pass beyond and between the scurrying and increasingly desperate shirts of defenders.And almost all of it filters through these two in the middle of the pitch.There is, even at this stage, an almost cliche aspect to referring to both Pedri and Gavi together; their age group, their club, their role in the team and their relative strengths all mark them out as being naturally twinned, the modern Spain’s version of Xavi and Andres Iniesta.And yet

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