Spain’s Rodri’s sour grapes jibe about Scotland was classless and inaccurate

The visiting captain was unhappy but Steve Clarke’s side did not need to resort to the dark arts to beat a fading superpower

Rodrigo Hernández has not learned his lesson. Shortly before the World Cup, the Manchester City midfielder confidently asserted that his nation, Spain, stood out as the strongest collective in the tournament. What happened next represents wounding history for the Spanish and Luis Enrique. Having scraped out of the group stage in Qatar, they were removed from the tournament by Morocco. Farewell to Luis Enrique and a red face for Rodri.

It was perfectly appropriate that Tuesday evening in Glasgow ended in fractious fashion for Spain. “Rubbish” was among the terms used by Rodri to describe Scotland’s approach during a 2-0 win. Rodri bemoaned provocation from the bully boys in navy blue. Scotland wasted time, he said. “For me, this is not football.” These were the sourest of grapes, not at all befitting the captain of a respected international side.

Scotland fans who paused wild celebration of a first win over Spain since Chaka Khan topped the UK charts with I Feel For You to note Rodri’s comments could only spurt with laughter. Angels were not dressed in red. It was the visiting team who routinely embellished fouls, pursued the officials and, in one sensational act involving Joselu, battered the turf in the style of an irate toddler. True, Spain did not waste time but them’s the breaks when you are trailing to the 42nd-ranked team in the world. Spanish petulance was glaring from the first whistle, a scenario which audibly irked a passionate – and, in fairness, partisan – Hampden crowd. No neutral could have been impressed with Spain’s attitude either.

Rodri’s sentiment was arrogant and inaccurate. It at least implies the Spanish way, a brand of supposedly pure football, should be the only manner in which to perform. Rodri portrayed the Scots as one-dimensional scratchers. The excuse culture was maintained by the defender David García, who whined that the Hampden grass was “too long.” This is dog ate my homework material.


Scotland’s was a showing personified by calmness and composure. Scott McTominay’s poise in midfield was a joy. Callum McGregor’s skill and burst of pace in the dying seconds, in trying to create a third goal, epitomised the Scottish mindset. There was aggression channelled the correct way, such as when Kieran Tierney left Dani Carvajal gasping for air immediately before McTominay’s second goal. Spain had nobody with the constant surge of John McGinn. In previous years, Scotland may have had to resort to the dark arts to hold off a football superpower but not now. Steve Clarke’s men played as if they felt they belonged in esteemed company. Scotland were more self-assured than has been the case for decades.

Yes, Spain enjoyed the bulk of possession but they failed to place Angus Gunn in the Scotland goal under serious pressure. The Spain defence and their own keeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, frequently looked panic-stricken. And this, when faced with the Queens Park Rangers forward Lyndon Dykes. In support of Dykes was Ryan Christie, who has been unable to command a regular start at Bournemouth.

Against this backdrop, the upbeat words of the recently installed Spain coach, Luis de la Fuente, looked as curious as Rodri’s ranting. “I am not happy, but satisfied that we made chances and showed football concepts we have been working on,” said De la Fuente. “That is what I aim to improve upon, polish them. But the idea is there and the players are convinced we can work that way and keep improving.”

De la Fuente emphasised the carrying out of training drills and “the future”. Spain started with Joselu, aged 33 and essentially a journeyman, winning cap No 2 at centre-forward. If De la Fuente genuinely believes the “concepts” utilised against Scotland – neither efficient nor effective – can reap rewards then Spain’s downward spiral at international level may well continue.

Scotland could actually do with Spain finding their feet and quickly. If De la Fuente’s team can defeat Norway for a second time and take six points from Georgia, Clarke should fancy his chances of at least finishing second in Group A. Not that Scots should be checking travel options for Germany and next summer’s finals just yet. Their team have encountered trouble in Georgia in the not-so-distant past. June’s meeting with Norway will prove a stern test, even more so if the hosts can call on Erling Haaland in Oslo.

Long before then, one hopes Rodri realises the error of his interview ways. Spain were outfought, outthought and outclassed in Glasgow. It should not be beyond their marquee players to admit as much. Scotland deserved far better than Rodri’s graceless nonsense. – Guardian