A roundup of Wednesday’s international friendlies as 24 European nations prepare for EURO 2016…
Spain 6-1 South Korea
In picking “favorites” for next week’s tournament (yes, it kicks off June 10, which is next week), there’s not been nearly enough talk about the two-time defending champions, Spain. Given their disastrous showing at the 2014 World Cup, perhaps it’s understandable. That said, underestimate them at your own risk.
On Wednesday, Vicent del Bosque’s side hung a half-dozen on South Korea in their second-to-last friendly ahead of their Group D opener against the Czech Republic on June 13. David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Nolito (twice) and Alvaro Morata (twice) bagged the goals. Not a single established starter — Silva, Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets or Jordi Alba, to name a few — played more than 60 minutes.
Belgium 1-1 Finland
Speaking of hotly-tipped favorites, Belgium settled for a disappointing (and worrying?) draw with Finland. Not only did the Red Devils draw the 61st-ranked nation in the world at home, but they needed and 89th-minute equalizer from Romelu Lukaku, who’s perhaps auditioning for the world’s biggest clubs this summer, to do so.
Marc Wilmots’ side will take on Norway in their final pre-EURO friendly on Sunday. After that, Group E — hailed by some the “group of death,” also featuring Italy, Sweden and Ireland — kicks off with a date against the Italians on June 13.
Norway 3-2 Iceland
No team has risen more quickly from “afterthought” to “something of a force to be reckoned with” over the last two years than Iceland. After a qualification campaign that saw them knock off the Netherlands both home and away, Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson’s (co-managers) side finished second in Group A, comfortably securing automatic qualification.
Wednesday’s defeat to Norway, who failed to qualify for EURO 2016 themselves, is the first of two friendlies leading up to Iceland’s Group F opener against Portugal on June 14 (they’ll also face Lichtenstein on Monday). The 3-2 final scoreline was somewhat flattering on Strakarnir okkar (Our boys) after Gylfi Sigurdsson scored an inconsequential penalty kick, down 3-1 at the time, in the 81st minute. Austria and Hungary are the other contestants in Group F.
Elsewhere in international friendlies
Russia 1-2 Czech Republic
Poland 1-2 Netherlands