Spain experienced a frustrating opening game at Euro 2020 as they did not pay almost complete dominance in Seville against a rigid and stubborn Sweden.
Luis Enrique’s team had most of the ball possession and territory in the game, which at times resembled attack-versus-defense, but could not take advantage of the good opportunities that their structure offered.
The best was Alvaro Morata, who was let in by a bloated attempt by Marcus Danielson, but his shot went with the side off.
Dani Olmo also saw a close-range header from Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen around the post, and Koke failed from the penalty area on goal.
Sweden’s best chance came from La Liga’s Young Player of the Year Alexander Isak, who flexed his muscles for a shot deflected by a Spanish defender, hit the post and flew straight at grateful keeper Unai Simon.
Isak was also a great opportunity for partner Marcus Berg, who somehow managed to get a shot close to the far post.
The result will do little to lift the dejected mood of part of the Spanish public who saw their national team’s preparations being overshadowed by the effects of positive Covid-19 tests for two players and controversy over squad selection.
The tie in Seville means Slovakia will be in Group E thanks to their surprising 2-1 win against Poland earlier on Monday.
No nation has prepared perfectly for this tournament due to the global pandemic, but few teams have been as problematic and dismembered as Spain’s.
The positive Covid-19 tests for Sergio Busquets and Diego Llorente and the resulting effects, as well as the omission of Real Madrid players from the squad, including Sergio Ramos, left many Spaniards hoping for success rather than success.
While none of the teams that won three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012 are not patched, this is still a talented group full of pace and vision.
This was evident throughout the match as the red and blue team moved their opponent across the pitch, moving intelligently into space and forging openings with Barcelona teen Pedri at the center.
In the first half alone, they completed 419 passes – the highest number in the first 45 minutes of a European Championship game since data specialist Opta began collecting such information in 1980.
What Luis Enrique really lacked was a finisher.
Morata has 19 international goals and many big clubs on his résumé but he got through the competition and scorned his moment when it came.
Gerard Moreno – who scored 30 goals for Villarreal last season – sat on the bench until the 75th minute and missed his own big chance in stoppage time with a header blocked by Olsen. It was one of only two shots on goal in the second half.
Sweden will be happy to have frustrated a large team in their own backyard. It wasn’t pretty, but it was extremely effective and shows a side of a work ethic and discipline in spades.
Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof is occasionally maligned by fans in England but he was great here.
Given the two games we’ve seen so far in Group E, it’ll be fascinating to see them through.
Sweden will face Slovakia, who defeated Poland in their first game, in Saint Petersburg, Russia on Friday, June 18 at 2:00 p.m. CEST. Spain will play the Poles in Seville the next day at 8:00 p.m.
Player of the game
- 8thCookReplaced byRuizat the 87 ‘protocol
- 16RodriReplaced byThiago Alcantaraat the 66 ‘protocol
- 11TorresReplaced byOyarzabalat the 74 ‘protocol
- 7thMorataReplaced bySarabiaat the 66 ‘protocol
- 19thOlmoReplaced byMorenoat the 74 ‘protocol
- 1de Gea
- 10Thiago Alcantara
- 2FunnyBooked at 55 minutesReplaced byKrafthat the 75 ‘protocol
- 20thOlssonReplaced byCajusteat the 84 ‘protocol
- 10ForsbergReplaced byBengtssonat the 84 ‘protocol
- 9mountainReplaced byQuaisonat the 69 ‘protocol
- 11IsaacReplaced byClaessonat the 69 ‘protocol
Referee: Slavko Vincic
Game ends, Spain 0, Sweden 0.
Second half ends, Spain 0, Sweden 0.
Attempt failed. Gerard Moreno (Spain) header from the center of the box just misses to the right. Assisted by Thiago with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Spain. Granted by Emil Krafth.
Attempt saved. Pablo Sarabia (Spain) left footed shot from the center of the box is saved in the center of the goal. Supported by Jordi Alba.
Attempt failed. Gerard Moreno (Spain) left footed shot from the right side of the box is just missed the top left corner. Supported by Pablo Sarabia.
Attempt saved. Gerard Moreno (Spain) header from the center of the box is saved by the goalkeeper in the center of the box. Supported by Pablo Sarabia with a flank.
Offside, Spain. Pedri tries a through ball, but Jordi Alba is caught offside.
Replacement, Spain. Fabián Ruiz replaces Koke.
Foul by Pablo Sarabia (Spain).
Sebastian Larsson (Sweden) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Replacement, Sweden. Pierre Bengtsson replaces Emil Forsberg.
Replacement, Sweden. Jens Cajuste replaces Kristoffer Olsson due to an injury.
Replacement, Sweden. Emil Krafth replaces Carl Mikael Lustig due to an injury.
Replacement, Spain. Mikel Oyarzabal is replacing Ferran Torres.
Replacement, Spain. Gerard Moreno replaces Dani Olmo.
Attempt blocked. Dani Olmo (Spain) right footed shot from the center of the box is blocked. Supported by Marcos Llorente.
Foul by Dani Olmo (Spain).
Albin Ekdal (Sweden) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Ferran Torres (Spain) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.