Spain and Romania played out a drab scoreless draw at Cluj Arena on Sunday, the final friendly of this international break for either side.
La Roja seemed disinterested and mustered few chances during the match, while the hosts came close to scoring on a few occasions after half-time but couldn't find a way past goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Cesc Fabregas had a claim for a late penalty, but a spot-kick and a late goal for the visitors would have been harsh on Romania, who were the better team for large stretches of the match.
As shared by Bleacher Report UK, Casillas started for Spain and equaled Latvia's Vitalijs Astafjevs' record for most caps by a European player:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
Congratulations to Iker #Casillas who tonight equals the record for most capped European player of all-time https://t.co/7JnaADgVer3/27/2016, 6:50:39 PM
Spain started on a positive note, taking control of the ball early and pushing forward, but the hosts looked dangerous on the counter-attack early. Adrian Popa, in particular, looked lively, routinely finding open space down the wing.
Nicolae Stanciu fired Romania's first chance of the match wide before Popa went dangerously close, blasting a shot inches wide of the target.
Meanwhile Bleacher Report UK shared this interesting nugget about the hosts' training kit:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
Romania put calculations on their training kits to promote maths in the country [via @101greatgoals] https://t.co/NkbJejD19a3/27/2016, 1:29:02 PM
Goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu was called into action for the first time after 10 minutes, producing a fine save to deny Gerard Pique after a strong ball into the box. He repeated his efforts when Pedro found some space, sending a side-footed effort to close to the Fiorentina stopper.
Spain gradually started looking more comfortable in the attacking third, but their defence looked suspect at best in the first half. La Roja struggled dealing with crosses, and Marc Bartra had to throw his entire body in front of a shot to stop the hosts from taking the lead.
AS English noticed Romania were finding space rather easily:
AS English @English_AS
Romania finding space when they counter quickly. Great block at the edge of the area by Bartra. 18 gone, still 0-03/27/2016, 7:06:03 PM
Nolito was one of Spain's standout performers during the first half, and he tried his luck from distance, firing an effort almost straight at Tatarusanu. Romania's defence comfortably dealt with La Roja's attacks throughout the half, and on the other side of the pitch, Popa continued to trouble Spain's defenders—Jordi Alba in particular.
Ovidiu Hoban couldn't keep the ball down after Casillas parried a cross out of his box, firing his effort well over the bar, but the defensive midfielder made up for the miss with a vital interception when David Silva tried to find Paco Alcacer.
Stanciu again tried his luck, but Casillas comfortably dealt with his wayward cross that flew toward the goal. The midfielder went closer to scoring minutes later, but once again, Casillas was there to save Spain from falling behind.
Sports writer Alexandra Jonson thought the veteran made a strong case to keep Manchester United's David De Gea on the bench:
Alexandra Jonson @AlexandraJonson
Iker Casillas doing his best to make sure Del Bosque will keep him as first choice for the Euros.3/27/2016, 7:22:16 PM
BeIN Sports USA highlighted this save in particular:
beIN SPORTS USA @beINSPORTSUSA
This is the workforce that is @Casillasworld for @SeFutbol. @Hai_romania keeping the goalie busy. https://t.co/68AdxskWIw3/27/2016, 7:23:22 PM
The chances dried up as the end of the half drew near, although Popa still found the time to cynically cut down Silva and run into the first booking of the match.
La Roja started the second half in much better form, and Pique was unlucky to see his well-struck volley fly straight into the arms pf Tatarusanu. On the other side of the pitch, Bogdan Stancu's effort was deflected just wide of the post, the closest either team had come to scoring.
Silva took too much time inside the box and allowed Vlad Chiriches to clear the ball just in time, while Florin Andone scuffed a shot into the side netting and failed to get past Bartra moments later.
Both teams started making substitutions, which saw the pace of the match drop even more, and AS English sounded almost disappointed after an hour of play:
AS English @English_AS
...an hour gone and still Romania 0-0 Spain3/27/2016, 8:05:40 PM
Stancu continued the Romanian trend of missing the goal completely from a promising position, but with La Roja barely troubling the hosts in the second half, Romania felt comfortable sending more men forward and chasing a winner.
Stanciu went for glory when he saw Casillas standing off his line, but his ambitious attempt missed the crossbar by several yards.
Alvaro Morata replaced Silva late, as Spain tried desperately to add something to the match to make their fans proud, but the hosts had no trouble whatsoever dealing with La Roja's midfielders. Onefootball was not happy with the action on offer:
Stanciu tried to force the action with a theatrical dive five minutes before the final whistle, and he was lucky to escape without a booking himself. Fabregas also went down inside the box late, and his claim was certainly stronger, as Lucian Sanmartean seemed to make a lot of contact with the Chelsea man.
Romania should feel good about Sunday's result, which showed their undefeated run to qualify for UEFA Euro 2016 was no fluke, but Spain clearly weren't at their best and didn't even seem interested in playing solid football in this friendly.
La Roja will look better in matches that matter, and once the final stretch of friendlies ahead of this summer's tournament kicks in, we'll likely get a better look at what the defending champions are truly capable of.
Spain will return to the pitch in May, when they host Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Romania will do battle with Ukraine in their next match.
As reported by Football Espana, Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque praised the Romanian team but admitted he was unhappy with his side's form during the international break:
Romania had a very good game. They didn’t let us play our brand of football. They’re a good national team. I’m not completely satisfied with the two games. We lacked depth in general.
He also said he didn't give Sergio Rico his debut in goal because he was focused on winning matches and used his substitutes accordingly.