Top Story: Saúl scores in Spain’s win
New Spain coach Luis Enrique — unlike old Spain coach Fernando Hierro — seems to believe (correctly) that Atlético Madrid midfielder Saúl Ñíguez is #actually elite, and the 23-year-old repaid the boss’s faith with an equalizing goal in Saturday’s 2-1 over England at Wembley. The match was the opening salvo for both teams in the first-ever UEFA Nations League.
In addition to his first Spain goal, Saúl took 83 touches, completed 83 percent of his passes and was fouled thrice — in part because the national team’s system freed him from defensive responsibilities. You best believe there’s more to come from the Atlético star, as Luis Enrique plans to make him an integral part of the side.
Luis Enrique: "Saúl es un jugador que me gusta mucho. Tiene cualidad técnica, un físico descomunal y una personalidad bestial. Es muy completo". pic.twitter.com/PkrtJLUW5z— Forza Atleti Radio (@ForzaAtl) September 8, 2018
Griezmann and France fail to inspire
The world champions kicked off their Nations League action with a dour 0-0 draw against Germany on Thursday, in which Antoine Griezmann played 80 minutes, Lucas Hernández played 90 and Thomas Lemar played zero. On Sunday, les Bleus took the lead over the Netherlands but Ryan Babel — Ryan Babel! — brought the Oranje level on 67 minutes. France ended up with the victory though, as Olivier Giroud scored an excellent volley in the 75th minute to secure the 2-1 win.
Griezmann was booked and lifted for Steven N’Zonzi in the 81st minute, while Benjamin Mendy replaced Lucas just after the hour and Lemar saw no time.
Other international results
- Portugal 1-1 Croatia (Gelson Martins played the second half)
- Romania 0-0 Montenegro (Stefan Savić played 90 minutes)
- United States 0-2 Brazil (Filipe Luís started and played all 90 minutes)
- Mexico 1-4 Uruguay (Diego Godín and José Giménez started, the latter scored)
- Venezuela 1-2 Colombia (Santiago Arias started and was substituted)
- Kenya 1-0 Ghana (Thomas Partey started)
Headlines you may have missed:
- Despite call-ups, Diego Costa and Jan Oblak stayed in Madrid over this international break.
- Speaking of which: Costa is now a father!
- Filipe Luís is staying with Atlético, but he doesn’t seem totally thrilled about it.
- Nikola Kalinić sprained his ankle and Santiago Arias had to return to Madrid after getting injured in a friendly against Venezuela. Add two more names to Atlético’s walking wounded — Juanfran and Vitolo are also out, but the latter could return in the next week.
- Read our exclusive interview with Atlético Femenino defender Elena Linari.