Georgia’s fairytale comes to an end as Spain score four to book quarterfinal spot

Spain vs Georgia, Cologne, Euro 2024 R16 (Image: Euro 2024)

No fairytale for Georgia in Cologne, as a young Spanish Armada gave them a harsh reality check in the Euro 2024 Round of 16 clash. Georgia had already made history by defeating Portugal the other day and qualifying for the knockouts in their first campaign, but they bowed out to Spain, after a thumping 1-4 defeat.

Spain made ten changes from their previous game, returning to their strongest lineup with Laporte being the only constant. Unai Simon started in goal in place of David Raya, while Marc Cucurella and Dani Carvajal took over as full-backs instead of Navas and Grimaldo. In defence, Le Normand partnered Aymeric Laporte, replacing Daniel Vivian. The midfield saw Pedri, Rodri, and Fabian Ruiz stepping in for Dani Olmo, Martin Zubimendi, and Mikel Merino respectively. Morata resumed the captaincy in attack, supported by Yamal and Williams on the flanks instead of Ferran Torres and Mikel Oyarzabal. Georgia had an unchanged XI from the Portugal game.

The tournament surprise package Georgia, stunned the world once again as they took the lead early in the 18th minute through an own goal by the Spanish defender, Robin le Normand. Seemingly out of nowhere, Willy Sagnol’s team launched their first attack through Okar Kakabadze. Georges Mikautadze switched play, finding the full-back with plenty of space. He then sent a perfect cross to the back post intended for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, but Le Normand ended up putting it into his own net.

A commendable feature of Georgia’s gameplay was they didn’t resort to park the bus strategy. Though they defended in numbers and made life difficult for Spain to penetrate their defence but The Crusaders launched counter attacks and kept on pushing the Spanish defence. Spain had maximum ball possession but they had to rely on long range shots as they found it difficult to penetrate the Georgian defence, until the equaliser in the 39th minute. It was Manchester City midfielder Rodri who struck again when his team needed him the most. A pass from Nico Williams found him outside the box. With a slight touch away from the defender, he finished it at the back of the net through a left-footed finish.


Most of the Spanish attacks were mainly down the left flank with the Athletic Bilbao winger, Nico Williams making the runs and cutting back inside to play square or cross it in. The 16-year-old Barcelona prodigy, Lamine Yamal also impressed in the other flank. The first half ended 1-1.

Spain started strong from the start of the second half and didn’t have to wait long to take the lead. Kashia’s reckless sliding tackle on Yamal caught the referee’s eye, prompting Francois Letexier to grant Spain a free-kick from 20 yards out in a central position. Giorgi Mamardashvili, the Georgian shot stopper, made an excellent save on Yamal’s initial free-kick, but Alvaro Morata recovered the ball on the left wing. A play switch to the right allowed Yamal the time to deliver a precise cross to the far post for Ruiz, who headed it in to give Spain the lead in the 51st minute. The movement was kind of familiar from a few weeks back, where these two players combined for a similar kind of goal against Northen Ireland in the Pre Euro friendlies.

By then, Spain had completely taken charge of the game, with 80 percent possession of the ball. Both the managers made a few changes but the fate of the underdogs was about to get worse.

Yamal executed two quick one-two passes near Georgia’s penalty area, first with Carvajal and then with Olmo, before taking a sharp-angled shot that Gvelesiani inadvertently bundled over the line. It seemed to increase Spain’s lead, but the goal was ruled out due to an offside in the build-up, maintaining the one-goal difference. A minute later, in the 75th minute, Georgia made a rare attack in the second half but lost the ball to the Spanish defence which allowed them a counter attack. Fabian Ruiz switched play through a lofted diagonal cross to Williams, who made a solo run down the left flank, dragged Gvelesiani towards him, beat him with a soft inside touch and guided the ball into the roof of the net. It was game over for Georgia.

The final goal of the match came in the 83rd minute. Kashia’s attempt to clear the ball in wet conditions was intercepted by Rodri, who passed it to Oyarzabal on the left. The Real Sociedad winger then delivered a square pass to Olmo, allowing the RB Leipzig midfielder to curl a stunning left-footed low placed shot past Mamardashvili’s outstretched arm.

With this win, Spain booked a place in the Euro 2024 quarterfinals, and they will face the hosts, Germany, on July 5th, in Stuttgart Arena, 9:30 pm, Indian Standard Time.