Thiago Alcantara has not been a regular feature in the Spanish squad so far in the 2020 European Championship.
The Liverpool midfielder has barely played a total of 51 minutes in La Roja’s run to the EURO 2020 semi-finals, but he made his way into the headlines regardless of his game time – after Spain defeated Switzerland on penalties in their quarter-final match in St Petersburg.
A Dennis Zakaria own goal for Switzerland in the first half was cancelled out by a second-half strike from Xherdan Shaqiri, as the teams were tied in the balance.
Remo Freuler was sent off in the last quarter of the match to make matters worse for the Swiss, but the high morale in the squad after their recent result showed as they held on against a much superior Spain for the entirety of extra time. Custodian Yan Sommer shined the brightest as he made ten saves.
Penalties were required to separate the teams, as the Swiss were competing in their second straight penalty shoot-out in the competition – and they got off to a great start as Sergio Busquets missed for Spain and Mario Gavranovic converted Switzerland’s first spot-kick.
But all three Swiss players following their first taker missed from the spot, and their third miss set Spain up with match point. Mikel Oyarzabal obliged, and Ruben Vargas – the man who blazed the third spot-kick for Switzerland over the crossbar – broke into tears on the St Petersburg pitch.
Swiss manager Vladimir Petkovic, the players and members of the backroom staff were amongst the people huddled around Vargas after the match, trying to console the 22-year-old.
Thiago, who had come on in the second half but did not take a penalty, was fresh off the delirious Spanish celebrations when he joined in to comfort the devastated youngster.
It was a touch of class by the Spaniard as he held the tearful Vargas’ face and tried to calm him down. Not only is the decorated midfielder a picture of class during games, but he is also class personified after the final whistle is blown.