Spain hammer Germany, join France in Nations League semi-finals
Seville (Spain): Spain booked its place in the Nations League Final Four in style, inflicting the heaviest loss for Germany in 89 years.
Ferran Torres on Tuesday scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 win for Spain, which now heads to the semi-finals as group winner. The win showed off Spain's strength in depth to keep scoring after a raft of substitutions in attack.
France had already qualified for the Final Four and remained unbeaten in a 4-2 win over Sweden, which was relegated. Ruben Dias' late goal gave Portugal a 3-2 win over Croatia.
Only three out of four games in League A were played as Switzerland's game with Ukraine was canceled following a Coronavirus outbreak in the Ukrainian squad. The Final Four is scheduled for October 2021.
Germany only needed a draw to reach the Nations League Final Four ahead of Spain. Instead, it got a record loss.
Germany's players appeared in shock after the country's worst defeat of all time in a competitive tournament. It was the biggest margin of defeat for Germany in any game since a 6-0 friendly loss to Austria in 1931.
"It's just bitter and disappointing," was the verdict of Manuel Neuer, who marked his 96th game for Germany a new record for a goalkeeper by conceding more than any German keeper for 66 years.
Spain "demonstrated everything we should have been doing with and without the ball," said midfielder Toni Kroos.
Germany coach Joachim L w said his team simply failed to communicate on the field on a "black day," but the World Cup-winning coach's selection and tactics face scrutiny.
L w started with a center-back pairing of Niklas S le and Robin Koch which was quickly overwhelmed, and replacing S le with Jonathan Tah had little effect.
That will prompt renewed scrutiny of L w's refusal to pick the experienced Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng after dropping them last year to focus on a rebuild.
The only negative for Spain was that captain Sergio Ramos went off with an apparent thigh muscle injury, adding to the rash of injuries for various countries' players during the international break amid a packed schedule this season.
Olivier Giroud scored twice as France beat Sweden 4-2 to qualify unbeaten for the Final Four from first place in its group.
The win, and a 1-0 victory over Portugal last week, restored France's momentum after its surprise 2-0 friendly loss to Finland last week.
Victor Claesson gave Sweden the lead early on after dribbling through the French defense. Giroud's goals were a statement that he's still relevant for France ahead of the European Championships despite playing just 33 minutes for Chelsea in the English Premier League this season.
Center-back Ruben Dias scored two goals, including a late winner, as Portugal battled to a 3-2 win over a Croatian team which played nearly half the game with 10 men.
Dias scored both of his goals from loose balls at set pieces either side of a goal from Joao Felix which could have been ruled out for a handball in the buildup by Diogo Jota.