FOOTBALL – Euro 2020: Spain pinned their hopes on a win against Poland on Saturday evening. Judging by their rankings, this should have been a match the Spaniards could win convincingly. It did not go true to form.
In contrast to the first game against Sweden, Spain managed to score. Poland opened fairly offensively against Spain. A few times they were dangerous with, among other things, a long shot from Klich which went over the bar.
Spain scores opening goal
The Spaniards know how to pass the ball well and despite the box being filled with defending Poles, Morata managed to score a first goal after a good cross. Initially, disallowed due to offside it was awarded following a VAR check.
Poland get into their stride
After a foul by Poland, Gerard Moreno shoots his free kick just wide. Lewandowski and Swiderski almost equalise several times, frustrated several times by the Spanish goalkeeper or the post.
Poland remained dangerous in the second half. It was again Lewandowski who got the ball from the wing and headed it into the net for Poland’s equaliser. As with the Spanish goal , a VAR check confirmed the play was onside and the goal stood.
Spain misses important penalty
After a foul on Gerard Moreno, the Spanish striker was awarded a penalty. With a chance to put Spain in a winning position, Gerard looked nervous as he placed the ball on the spot. With a stuttering run up, he put the ball past the keeper only to be denied by the post. Morata, who was following in could only sky the rebounded ball into the stands.
Spain increasingly frustrated
As they did against Sweden, Spain dominated possession. However, clear-cut chances were rare as they played safe, square passes. There was a lack of the creativity and flair needed to unlock a well-organised Poland defence.
While Morata was denied by a great save late on, that chance came in a rare spell of urgency from the Spanish. The team were sluggish for much of the game and showed little inventiveness. Spain is now under pressure heading into their final group game against Slovakia.
This is another disappointing result for Spain. Little wonder the fans and media are looking downcast.
Spanish media voice their feelings
The Spanish media is not very optimistic. According to the sports newspaper AS, it is no longer about making it to the final, but about staying alive during the Championship. Morata, in particular, is receiving a lot of criticism from Spanish media – not unwarranted – after missing many opportunities against Poland. Morata later acknowledged in a press release the Spanish game needs to improve. Naturally, there was a caveat that it’s not easy to follow in the footsteps of a generation of geniuses.
The Championship is now on a knife’s edge for Spain. Only the top two teams in each group and the four best third placed teams will advance to the knockout stages. Sweden leads in this group with 4 points, followed by Slovakia with 3 points. Spain has collected 2 points after two group matches and is now in 3rd place in group E. This may not be sufficient to get through. However, a win against Slovakia in their final match on Wednesday 23 June, would lift Spain into at least second place and assured progression. Anything less than a win, and it may be adios to Euro 2020.
Busquets back but no guaranteed place in starting line-up
Midfielder Busquets tested positive for Covid-19 shortly before the start of the Euro 2020. Following a ten day quarantine, he has rejoined his team. His return just didn’t result in a starting spot against Poland.