Both the women's and men's FIH Hockey Pro League matches between Spain and Argentina were played at a high tempo and began with all the promise of high scoring games. However, the high ball pace and fast attacking running didn't result in anything resembling a goal fest or even many attempts on goal.
In both matches, it was a single goal for the visiting side that separated the teams. In the women's match it was a goal made and scored by the Granatto sisters – Maria made the perfect pass, Victoria turned sharply and fired the ball home. In the men's game, an opportunistic goal from Tomas Domene was the difference between Spain and Argentina.
Spain vs Argentina (women) - Estadio Betero, Valencia (ESP)
The visiting Las Leonas came to Valencia unbeaten in their previous six matches, the only team in the league to have won all their matches to date.
Spain, in contrast, had lost three of their six games but, as debutants to the league, they had surprised everyone by holding Netherlands to a draw and had beaten current league leaders India, in Bhubaneswar. Argentina would have known they would face a tough battle in these matches.
Argentina started the match with a true ferocity and intent and within four minutes, their pressure paid off as Victoria Granatto was able to turn and shoot after her sister, Maria Granatto slipped the ball through to her. The shot itself was a beautifully struck ball that left Spain’s goalkeeper Mario Tello wrong footed.
Despite a lot of attack and counter-attack by both teams, this was the only goal in a frenetic but sometime chaotic first half.
In the second half, Spain really began to turn up the pressure on their higher-ranked rivals. Clara Ycart in particular was very effective, her close stick skills allowing her to eliminate opponents and create chances for her team to equalise.
However, despite Ycart’s best efforts, Spain were unable to turn the pressure into goals. Sara Barrios did everything right until it came to the final shot. She twisted and turned past the Argentina defence to create space but then scuffed her shot.
Lucia Jimenez also came close to scoring with a well timed shot as she ran into the Argentina circle but Belen Succi was up to the challenge and got her stick to the ball and turned it past the post. Minutes later and Spain’s Marta Segu was similarly thwarted by the veteran Argentina goalkeeper.
The game continued at the same high tempo for the duration of the match but unfortunately the speed of play wasn’t matched by the quality of decision-making and no further goals came from either side.
The final minute of play saw both sides create chances in a final flurry of activity but both Belen Succi and Melanie Garcia were up to the challenge.
Player of the Match, Eugenia Trinchinetti (ARG) said: ‘Spain is really good team and it was a good game. We are happy to be here in Valencia, it is really beautiful. We are happy with that win and we are preparing for the World Cup so we are looking forward to tomorrow’s game.’
Spain’s Clara Ycart said: ‘We improved every quarter, and in the last half we had some chances to draw or even win. It is very positive. Later today we will look at the points we need to improve upon so we will hope to win or draw tomorrow.
Today's results mean that Argentina have moved to second in the FIH Pro League table behind India, with a game in hand. Spain are in seventh place, on equal points with Belgium.
Spain vs Argentina (men) - Estadio Betero, Valencia (ESP)
The first quarter of this intriguing match between Spain and Argentina saw both teams playing a high tempo game as they tested each other’s defensive press set-ups. The work rate by both teams in the opening 15 minutes was exceptional and the quality of passing was top rate but it was a slight hesitation by the Spanish midfield that allowed Argentina to take a lead in the 13th minute.
An error by Enrique Gonzales in the middle of the Spanish half of the pitch allowed Tomas Domene to grab possession and speed towards the circle. His reverse shot found a small gap between the post and Spain’s goalkeeper Mario Garin.
Argentina came close to doubling their lead with a sharp penalty corner shot but the ball was kept out by a great piece of post play from the Spanish defence.
The visiting side won five penalty corners in the first half but were unable to extend their lead through the set-piece.
The third quarter saw both teams slow the pace of the game a little as they tried to get more ball possession. However, although Argentina looked the more dangerous, neither side really came close to adding to the goal count.
The fourth quarter saw Martin Ferreiro come close to scoring as he intercepted a Spanish pass on the 25 yard line and raced towards the goal. The talented forward’s shot flew over the keeper and was cleared off the line by a retreating Spanish defence.
As the game neared the end, Spain upped the ante and pressured the Argentina defence, but Los Leones are renowned for their disciplined defence and there was no way through for the team in red. By the end of the game, Spain had been into the Argentina circle 19 times, but only managed to get two shots on target.
The result would have been extra disappointing for Joaquin Mendini who won a gold medal with Argentina in 2016 and now is an integral part of the Spanish team.
This victory means Argentina are now in second place in the FIH Pro League, behind India. Spain are in eighth position ahead of South Africa.
Player of the Match, Tomas Domene (ARG) said: ‘I think we played well today. Spain is a top team but we tried to play our best level. We gave it 100 per cent and played our game, with our tactics.’
The FIH Hockey Pro League action continues on Sunday 15 May at Estadio Betero, Valencia when Spain men and women play host to the Argentina national teams for a second time. The women's match takes place at 13:00 (CET), with the men's match beginning at 16:30 (CET).
FIH Hockey Pro League – 14th May 2022
Estadio Betero, Valencia (ESP)
Result: Women’s Match 28
Spain 0, Argentina 1
Player of the Match: Eugenia Trinchinetti (ARG)
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL), Steve Rogers (AUS), Ben Goentgen (GER - Video umpire)
Result: Men’s Match 36
Spain 0, Argentina 1
Player of the Match: Tomas Domene (ARG)
Umpires: Steve Rogers (AUS), Ben Goentgen (GER), Video Umpire Laurine Delforge (BEL)
To see the current women’s FIH Hockey Pro League Standings, please click here.
To see the current men’s FIH Hockey Pro League Standings, please click here.
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