Drive towards video-technology continues
History was made at the Stade de France after the first-ever international goal was ruled out thanks to video-technology. Antoine Griezmann’s header in the 47th minute appeared to hand the home side a surprise lead but following a quick consultation with his video assistant, the referee promptly disallowed the goal. It was a decision that took all of 30 seconds. The technology was put to use again, with 13 minutes of action left as Gerard Deulofeu's 'offside goal' was overturned. In all, the two incidents demonstrated that rather than hinder the game, video technology holds the potential to improve it.
Mbappe reaffirms his potential on the main stage
Having been recently tipped by Thierry Henry to “go a long way in the game”, Kylian Mbappe certainly succeeded in adding weight to his fellow Frenchman’s words. Facing a Spanish backline that boasted Sergio Ramos and Gerard Piqué amongst its ranks, the 18-year-old showcased why he’s caught the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. His dynamism on the ball was manifest after just 10 minutes as he used his pace and quick feet to draw a foul on the edge of the Spanish box. It set the tone for much of his evening. The youngster was lively both on and off the ball and provided France with their greatest threat going forward. No goals to his name, but it was a performance that nonetheless reaffirmed his potential on the main stage.
Spain and France remain light years ahead of England
It was a night for the purists, with plenty of high-quality football on display throughout much of the game. France were the lesser of the two sides but still managed to threaten with flashes of youthful brilliance - something that has been notably absent from England’s own game in recent years. With the likes of Mbappe and Griezmann leading the line, France’s future remains bright. It was the Spaniards who dominated proceedings tonight, though. Their football was slick, passing on point, and forward play dynamic. The Spaniards injected an exciting tempo to the game that England have rarely managed to create this decade. Gareth Southgate’s men would be wise to take note.
Spanish experience shines through
In the end, Spain's experience shone through to secure a well-earned victory in Paris. France were by no means drastically inferior to the visitors but ultimately lacked the cohesion that seemed to underpin Julen Lopetegui's men. Andres Iniesta enjoyed a particularly commanding performance, helping to pull the strings for Spain's central unit while creating goal-scoring opportunities for those around him. As the game wore on, Iniesta and Co tightened their grip on the game, through superior fitness, physicality and composure, with two second-half goals sealing the deal for Spain.
Abundance of talent sets European giants apart
The fact Spain could afford to overlook Hector Bellerin, Lucas Vázquez and Cesc Fabregas for their squad tonight, while France opted to exclude Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane, bears testament to the depth of talent available to these two countries. With such a deep well to draw from, it’s little wonder then that England continue to lag behind their European rivals. Both Spain and France remain spoilt in terms of selection – a luxury that Southgate is unlikely to enjoy in the years to come. With the 2018 World Cup looming, Spain and France stand poised to fly the European flag in Russia next summer.