Spain enter a critical phase in the tournament as they face Poland in a crucial Group E encounter in Seville on Saturday.
Luis Enrique must be wondering how his Spain side, after having 86% possession, 917 passes and 17 shots later, could not find the back of the net against Sweden. The Spanish team completely dominated Sweden, missing some opportunities, most notably from Alvaro Morata, which could have given them all three points.
In the end, Spain could only draw and put themselves in a tricky situation before their game against Poland. A win will certainly help them in their quest to advance to the next round. However, a draw or defeat will do them no favours before taking on current group leaders in Slovakia.
Poland will look to make amends to their opening game, which ended in defeat against Slovakia. Lewandowski & Co. failed to impact the game as the Polish never looked convinced to get back. Poland’s fate will be settled against Spain when they meet. A win would split the group one going into the last round of games. A defeat, however, will end all lingering hopes of making it to the round-of-16 of the tournament.
Team News & Tactics
Luis Enrique will be without the services of his captain, Sergio Busquets, once more. Busquets missed the opener with a positive coronavirus test and sits out of the Poland clash. However, the midfielder could be available for the final group game against Slovakia. Rodri is likely to continue in the anchoring role.
Enrique could make slight changes to his midfield personnel, with the experienced Thiago Alcantara likely to replace the exciting Pedri in the lineup. Pedri had a good game, but Alcantara might provide the quality needed with a must-win situation at hand.
The defence is expected to be the same, although there could be changes up top if necessary. Alvaro Morata, despite his miss, likely retains the trust of his manager and could keep his spot. However, if Enrique decides to give Gerard Moreno a chance, Morata might be benched. Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres will also start wide positions.
Predicted Lineup (4-3-3): Simon; Marcos Llorente, Laporte, Pau Torres, Alba; Koke, Rodri, Thiago; Ferran Torres, Morata, Olmo
Poland manager Paulo Sosa will be looking for inspiration from his players to make amends for the dismal showing against Slovakia. Unfortunately, Talisman Robert Lewandowski failed to have any relevant involvement in the game, and the blame should fall upon those tasked with creating behind him.
The midfield change could be a formation change upfront, with Piotr Zielinski operating from a no.10 role of sorts. Zielinski started the Slovakia game up front alongside Lewandowski, and in his place there, Karol Swiderski could be brought in to improve all-around attack upfront.
Sosa could field a midfield two of Maciej Rybus and Mateusz Klich after Grzegorz Krychowiak’s red card, which means he will miss the Spain game, but this could be an opportunity for Sosa to make fundamental changes in midfield.
Karol Linetty and Kamil Jozwiak will take up wing-back positions. Further behind, despite a bad showing against Slovakia, Wojciech Szczesny will keep his place in goal, with Bartosz Bereszynski, Kamil Glik and Jan Bednarek all occupying central defensive positions in front of him.
Predicted Lineup (3-4-1-2): Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Bednarek; Jozwiak, Klich, Linetty, Rybus; Zielinski; Swiderski, Lewandowski
- Spain are undefeated in their last 11-games in the European Championships.
- Poland have conceded two or more goals in six of their last eight games.
- Poland have also conceded the first goal in five of their last eight games.
Player in Focus
The Spain striker has had a mixed start to his Euros campaign. The positive aspect was his movements and positioning, apt for a striker of his calibre, with the downside being his finishing. This is not the first time Morata is associated with missing gilt-edged chances, often the recipient of those chances and missing several of those in his career.
Morata needs to be on his best form and repay the trust shown in him by Enrique, who has a 30-goal striker in Moreno on the bench. Spain, for all their passing and possession, needs goals to show their superiority. If Spain are to score their goals, Morata will play a crucial role in the game against Poland.
Unlike Morata, if Lewandowski is to get any of those gilt-edged chances, he’d probably finish them with aplomb. Give the Bayern Munich striker a whiff of goal, and he does not hesitate. Maybe a striker of Lewandowski’s calibre is what Spain are missing, and the Polish henchman needs to put things into action.
Poland’s position is not great in their group. However, a win or draw against Spain will help their position in the group. Lewandowski is key to what Poland can do against Spain, and the striker needs to be in his best form possible.
Spain 2-0 Poland
Will Alvaro Morata make amends in front of goal, or will it be the Robert Lewandowski show? These questions are often discussed before such crucial games, but if we are judging teams for their collective form, then Spain will edge Poland in this encounter.
Poland does have the attacking threat of Lewandowski, but they have so far shown nothing of substance as a collective. On the other hand, Spain will create more and more chances and, this time, expect their forwards to score with more regularity.