While it was around 8 degrees cooler in Seville on Saturday than during the opener against Sweden, the attacking flame inside of La Furia Roja was also at a considerably lower temperature. Despite ‘Morata and 13,000 more’ finally finding something to cheer about, Spain’s woes in the final third continue to persist, despite the enhanced number of chances for Spain on Saturday evening.
Due to this, the integrity of Spain’s famous ‘tiki-taka’ philosophy continues to be questioned, with the general perception of it in Spanish football’s current climate being extremely banal, futile, and boring. However, more importantly, Spain’s hopes of conquering the tournament that their antecedents know ever-so-well looks in immense jeopardy, and so does the job of the man at the helm, Luis Enrique.
Euro 2020 Match Report: Spain 1-1 Poland
The Spanish line-up remained unchanged up until the forward line, where Gerard Moreno was introduced at the expense of Ferran Torres instead of Álvaro Morata. Following the game against Sweden, Marcos Llorente was asked by Spanish television the following: “How is Álvaro? Is he Ok?”
The tone suggested that Morata is returning from a career-damaging injury or personal trauma, but no, he was continuously jeered by his home fans at the end of Spain’s campaign inception and the media only bolstered the negative words of the Spanish public. With the inclusion of Morata today, it was only going to continue, even after his goal.
At the start of the game, Poland were showing more attacking intent than Sweden did. Klich almost had the ball in the back of the net from distance in fact, but it could only hit the top of Simón’s net. If Poland lost, they would’ve been out of the tournament, so their intent was not letting Spain have it their own way.
That was shown when Pau Torres took on a shot from about 35 yards out within 15 minutes, which you definitely wouldn’t expect from him, or Spain for that matter. Yet, Spain grabbed hold of the game after 20 minutes, which would see Poland drop a bit deeper and this ultimately led to the goal.
Every time Spain lost the ball and the Polish tried to break-away, Spain pressed the ball immediately in groups of three, not letting them out. As you would expect, this pegged the Polish defence back which allowed Morata to remain onside for the goal.
It was created by Gerard Moreno, cutting in from the left-hand-side and sliding an inviting ball through to Morata, who was able to tuck it home, showing great movement. The linesman initially chalked the 25th minute goal off, but VAR disagreed and proved that the striker was indeed onside, but by a mere inch. This goal produced a heart-warming celebration, as he ran to embrace Enrique immediately after the referee announced that it was a goal. Enrique of course being the man who has tried his upmost hardest to restore confidence in his number 7.
Luis Enrique on Friday:
“Tomorrow we play with Morata and 10 others.”
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 19, 2021
Spain were let-off almost directly after this however, as Swiderski fired onto the post from long-range and Lewandowski failed to put the rebound beyond Simón, who denied the Polish talisman with a reflex save.
Moreno was also left disappointed as he couldn’t do his movement justice with the finish as he ran inside with pace to become a second-striker in order to reach a ball fired in by Alba, but could only find the side-netting. The whistle then went to mark the end of the first period; more chances in Seville in comparison to the opener and finally a goal, but still a nervy affair.
Poland again, at the start of the Second Half pressed the Spanish in numbers. This, in the 54th minute led to a Lewandowski equaliser, who rose above, and quite frankly bullied Laporte in order to power a scintillating Jozwiak cross home into the bottom left.
— RouteOneFootball (@Route1futbol) June 18, 2021
3 minutes later, Gerard Moreno was bundled down within the box and a penalty was given following a lengthy VAR review. Unfortunately, he stroked the ball against the post, but it was the rebound that really caught the attention of the audience. Morata, who has already accumulated masses of criticism and disregard from the Spanish faithful, failed to put the rebound on target, never mind into the back of the net where there was no keeper guarding it.
Many Polish yellow cards were to follow as they began to lose their heads slightly in a desperate attempt to hold onto that all important point. Ferran replaced Olmo in the 62nd minute, before Fabían and Sarabia replaced Koke and Moreno 6 minutes later. Only then, were crosses and passes beginning to be well formulated by the Spaniards despite the deficit of time that remained.
More runs were being found and more numbers were filtering into the box as the ball was being forced more into wider areas but there was still the odd moment of alarm at the back. Pau Torres looked a little nervous coming to the end of the game as he, on occasion, would clear the ball out of play when his goalkeeper was screaming for it.
In the 5 minutes of stoppage time, sloppiness crept into the Spain team when playing forward as it became apparent that the Spaniards were scared to play a risky ball, possibly showing their age and inexperience. Full-time followed 90 minutes of pure Polish desire and a vapid performance from a Spanish perspective.
Well, to conclude, there’s a lot that needs to be improved. You can’t doubt the talent that is in the squad, because there is ever so much of it, but Spain’s idiosyncrasies when advancing up the pitch seemed ineffective once again, as they almost become a burden to La Roja.
There are a lot of different solutions that could be implemented, some being harder and more risky than others, but flaws in squad selection and playing style are starting to shine through now, as Spain head into a final group-game against Slovakia on Wednesday, who coming into this game, start a point better off than their hosts which I’m sure not many would have predicted.