Spain struggling to create chances as Aspas stakes claim for starting spot

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Iago Aspas Spain
Julen Lopetegui's side needed a late winner from the Celta Vigo striker to beat Tunisia, but there were few positives in this World Cup warm-up

Spain still do not seem quite themselves. Although La Roja extended their unbeaten run under Julen Lopetegui to 20 games, Saturday's 1-0 win over Tunisia was anything but convincing.

Six days ahead of their World Cup debut against Portugal, it was all too predictable from the 2010 champions against Tunisia in Krasnodar. In the first half in particular, there was a lack of urgency and little in the way of clear chances, despite the usual possession from La Roja.

It was far from a vintage performance and not one to suggest that this Spain side can go on to win the trophy on July 15 – even though their wealth of talent makes them one of the big favourites heading into the tournament next week.

Thiago Alcantara and David Silva were unusually subdued in the first 45 minutes and Spain improved in the second half following the introduction of Koke and Lucas Vazquez, then Diego Costa and Marco Asensio, and finally Iago Aspas.

The multiple changes gave many players a run-out, but were also perhaps an indication that Lopetegui is still unsure of his strongest starting XI less than a week before his side kick off their World Cup campaign.

Lucas and Asensio in particular gave Spain greater urgency in the final third and the latter could yet force his way into this team. Before he was brought on, Lopetegui's side were too predictable and Tunisia – without doing too much – had looked comfortable enough.

However, it was Costa and Aspas who combined to break the deadlock with six minutes remaining. The Atletico Madrid forward made an intelligent run that took him clear, only to delay too long and lose the opportunity, dragging back for his team-mate to hammer home.

Aspas, who also scored and played his part in another two goals in the 6-1 win over Argentina in March, had only been on the pitch for eight minutes, yet once again he took his opportunity with aplomb.

Jordi Alba Dylan Bronn Tunisia Spain international friendly 2018

The former Liverpool forward has now been involved in nine goals in his 10 games for Spain, with four of those netted himself and five assists. And all of those have come in the second half.

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As things stand, he looks likely to remain as a bench option as the World Cup kicks off next week, yet he has done his hopes of claiming a starting spot no harm at all with this showing, which follows a fantastic campaign with Celta (with 23 goals in 37 games for the Galician outfit last season).

"It's a decision the coach will have to make," Aspas said afterwards. "I try to take advantage when he gives me opportunities, be it with Rodrigo (who started the game) or with Diego (Costa). They give me chances and goals."

And it is precisely chances and goals that Spain are lacking at the moment, having drawn 1-1 with Switzerland last week. On Saturday, Aspas showed once again with his intelligent movement and another fine finish that he is potentially one of the solutions to those problems.