Spain experienced a frustrating opening match at Euro 2020 as it failed to pay off its almost complete dominance against a rigid and stubborn Sweden in Seville.
Luis Enrique’s team had the vast majority of possessions and territory in the match, which sometimes resembled an attacking session against the defense, but they failed to take advantage of the good opportunities provided by their construction.
The best was Alvaro Morati, who was sent to the goal by a blown attempt to kick Marcus Danielson, but the side shot ended next to the goal.
Dani Olmo also saw a header from close range, which shot turned the post by Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen, and Koke followed the goal diagonally.
Sweden’s best chance fell on young La Liga player of the year Alexander Isak, who grabbed a shot that bounced off the Spanish defender, hit the post and stuck straight to grateful keeper Unai Simon.
Isak also created a great opportunity for his partner Marcus Berg, who somehow managed to send a shot from close range of the wide tripod.
The result will have little effect on the mood of some Spanish public who have seen their national team’s preparations overshadowed by declines in positive Covid-19 tests for two players and controversy over team selection.
The draw in Seville means that Slovakia had an early advantage in Group E thanks to their own surprise 2-1 win over Poland earlier on Monday.
No nation has had perfect preparation for this tournament as a result of a global pandemic, but the accumulation of a few sides has been as problematic and isolated as that of Spain.
Positive Covid-19 tests for Sergio Busquets and Diego Llorente and the consequences that resulted, along with the omission of any Real Madrid player from the team, most notably Sergio Ramos, left many Spaniards hoping instead of expecting success.
Although it is not a patch in any team that won three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012, this is still a talented group full of rhythm and vision.
This was born throughout the game, as the red and blue side moved the opponent across the field, intelligently moving into space and forging openings, and Barcelona teenager Pedri pointed out.
In the first half alone, 419 passes were completed – the highest number in the opening 45 minutes of a European Championship match since Opta data experts began collecting such information in 1980.
What Luis Enrique initially XI really lacked was a finisher.
Morata has 19 international goals and a lot of big clubs in his CV, but he flew through the competition and rejected the moment when it came.
Gerard Moreno – the 30-goal scorer for Villarreal last season – sat on the bench until the 75th minute and missed his own big chance to make up for Olsen’s header. It was one of only two attempts at targeting in the second half.
Sweden will be delighted to have frustrated the big side in their backyard. It wasn’t nice, but it was extremely effective and testified to a lack of work ethic and discipline.
Victor Lindelof of Manchester United was occasionally brushed off by fans in England, but he was great here.
Based on the evidence of the two games we have witnessed so far in Group E, it will be fascinating to watch them to the end.
Sweden is in St. Petersburg, Russia against Slovakia, which beat Poland in the first match at 14:00 BST on Friday, June 18. Spain play the day after, facing the Poles in Seville at 20:00.
- 8BoilReplaced byRuizu 87 ‘minutes
- 16RodriReplaced byThiago Alcantarau 66 ‘minutes
- 11TorresReplaced byOyarzabalu 74 ‘minutes
- 7MorataReplaced bySarabiau 66 ‘minutes
- 19OlmoReplaced byMorenou 74 ‘minutes
- 1de Gea
- 10Thiago Alcantara
- 2FunnyBooked in 55 minutesReplaced byKrafthu 75 ‘minutes
- 20OlssonReplaced byCajusteu 84 ‘minutes
- 10ForsbergReplaced byBengtssonu 84 ‘minutes
- 9BergReplaced byQuaisonu 69 ‘minutes
- 11IsaacReplaced byClaessonu 69 ‘minutes
- Slavko Vincic
- 10,559 th most common
Match ends, Spain 0, Sweden 0.
End of the second half, Spain 0, Sweden 0.
Gerard Moreno (Spain) gets in a strike but the shot is blocked by a defender. He assisted Thiago with a cross after a corner.
Corner, Hotel Spain. Courtesy of Emil Krafth.
Try saved. Pablo Sarabia (Spain) saves from the left side from the center of the penalty area. Assisted by Jordi Alba.
Attempted miss Gerard Moreno (Spain) has a left foot shot from the right side of the penalty area near, but misses the upper left corner. Assisted by Pablo Sarabia.
Try saved. Gerard Moreno (Spain) gets in a shot from the middle of the box. He assisted Pablo Sarabia with a cross.
Offside, Hotel Spain. Pedri tries to trap the ball but Jordi Alba gets caught offside.
Replacement, Spain. Fabián Ruiz replaces Kokea.
Misdemeanor by Pablo Sarabia (Spain).
Sebastian Larsson (Sweden) takes the free-kick in the defensive half.
Replacement, Sweden. Pierre Bengtsson replaced Emil Forsberg.
Replacement, Sweden. Jens Cajuste replaces Kristoffer Olsson due to injury.
Replacement, Sweden. Emil Krafth replaces Carl Mikael Lustig due to injury.
Replacement, Spain. Mikel Oyarzabal replaces Ferran Torres.
Replacement, Spain. Gerard Moreno replaced Dani Olmo.
Attempt blocked. Dani Olmo (Spain) has a shot blocked. Assisted by Marcos Llorente.
Offense Dani Olmo (Spain).
Albin Ekdal (Sweden) takes the free-kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Ferran Torres (Spain) shoots with a left foot outside the penalty area.