When seeing that Spain suffered a 2-1 defeat to Sweden on Thursday night – their fist World Cup qualification defeat since 1993 – you would be forgiven for assuming that Luis Enrique’s side had been on the wrong end of a classic ‘smash and grab’.
While the hosts were certainly indebted to an outstanding centre-half partnership of Victor Lindelof and Filip Helander – the pair made a combined 21 clearances on the night while ensuring Alvaro Morata looked about as sharp as a Pound Land steak knife – the score line arguably flattered Luis Enrique’s Spain rather than Janne Andersen’s Swedes.
Despite mustering just 25 per cent possession (still an increase on their measly tally of 14 per cent during that 0-0 draw in the Euro 2020 group-stages), a combative, counter-attacking Sweden arguably created the more clear-cut chances on the night.
Emil Forsberg and the magisterial Dejan Kulusevski outshone their La Roja counterparts while, in Alexander Isak, they also had the game’s outstanding player; a yellow and blue blur of furious energy, balletic footwork and searing speed.
Is Alexander Isak a superstar in the making?
Isak’s laser-guided, fifth-minute finish ruthlessly cancelled out Carlos Soler’s early opener in Stockholm.
And, if it wasn’t for some heroic, last-ditch defending from Eric Garcia, the Real Sociedad striker surely would have doubled his tally in the second half too.
Time and again, Isak breezed away from Aymeric Laporte, Sergio Busquets and co, showcasing the devastating combination of pace, power and skill that earned him so many admirer at the European Championships.
According to Basque-based publication Noticias de Gipuzkoa, Liverpool expressed an interest three months ago in a man who has been labelled ‘the second coming of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’ ever since he was a baby-faced teenager making waves in the Allsvenskan.
Jurgen Klopp apparently feels that the £60 million-rated Isak would complement Mo Salah and Sadio Mane at Anfield, a cold-blooded alternative to the pristine but profligate Roberto Firmino.
Thursday’s one-man destruction of a bruised, battered Spanish defence will have done little to derail that particular train of thought.
Since then, Isak has put pen to paper on a new, long-term deal in San Sebastian. That has not stopped Liverpool fans dreaming, however, after another outstanding performance on the international stage from one of Europe’s next great number nines.