Spain vs Sweden

MATCH REPORT: SPAIN VS SWEDEN, LA ROJA DOMINATED THE GAME BUT HAD TO SETTLE FOR A DRAW AFTER SOME DOGGED SWEDISH DEFENDING

faced off against in the second match of Group D on Monday. It was Luis Enrique’s side who were dominating possession as was expected, with on the back foot in the early stages.

That produced the first shot on target of the match when Koke lifted a ball into the box which was headed by Dani Olmo towards goal only for Olsen in goal to throw out a strong left hand. That had been the pattern in the opening 20 minutes where Sweden could hardly get a kick in.

 

Koke was the next to try his luck, slicing his shot just wide of the goal. The Swedish defence were having to clear a lot of balls into the box and one could sense a goal was in the offing. Spain’s pressure and closing down had their opponents struggling to move forward. Koke blazed over after being found by Olmo as the wait for the first strike went on.

 

Morata had the best chance of the half when the ball fell to him inside the box after a mistake by Danielson. However, his first time shot curled wide of the post as La Roja’s profligacy continued. On the other side, Isak almost scored out of nowhere when his strike at goal came back off the upright and into the grateful arms of Unai Simon.

Dani Olmo  took on the shot from distance this time which was well saved by Olsen as the halftime whistle went with the scores still level.

 

The second half started in much the same manner with Spain having a couple of half chances and Sweden looking to establish a stronger foothold. The match was being played at a gentler pace, with La Roja patiently working their way to an opening while the Swedes kept their shape intact. The away side got the first real chance of the half at the 60th minute.

Sweden broke away on a counter with Isak who tricked his way into the box. His square ball found Berg at the back post who somehow skewed his shot over when it looked easier to score.

 

Dani Olmo, Spain’s most consistent threat, hit a good shot at goal which was blocked by Danielson as the home side continued to search for the elusive goal. The game petered out mostly after that, with Sweden defending solidly. Spain changed their entire front line in hopes of scoring, and Moreno did see his header saved by Olsen. But unfortunately for them, that was as good as it got with Sarabia and Moreno trying their best to change it.

 

It finished 0-0 with Sweden clearly the happier of the two sides with his point after being outplayed for much of the match and having to fall back time and again.

Here are the three key takeaways of the match:

 

SPAIN WILL BE HARD TO DISPOSSESS

Luis Enrique had drilled his side into keeping the ball thoroughly, which is what they did. Spain dominated the ball and was hardly countered by Sweden, who were happy to sit off them. Even when they lost possession, La Roja charged back to pressurize their opponents quickly into winning the ball back. However, it was just not one area that their game was confined to. Spain moved it around all over the pitch, especially utilizing their full backs to great effect against Sweden. Their wingers and midfielders were fluid in movement, roaming inside and outside in order to support the attack.

 

All of which led to them having 83% of possession but no goals at the midway point. Despite having so much of the ball throughout the match, their final ball was lacking greatly which left them unable to break the deadlock. This will be a theme in future games as well, but Enrique knows that only goals will make them win and there were none here.

 

SWEDEN NEED TO SHOW MORE

Janne Andersson’s side were barely able to get on the ball right from the start. Though Spain kept the ball mostly in the middle areas, the sense of urgency to get it back was greatly lacking. Even when they did try to build something up, the long balls forward were not effective. Consequently, their defence was put under a lot of pressure and goalkeeper Olsen had to make three big saves to keep them in the match. Their one shot of note came back off the post, and the manager knows he has to change something if they are to go toe-to-toe with the Spaniards.

 

Their compact shape was proving hard to break down, as they kept the opposition at bay for much of the game. Despite all that defensive praise, Andersson knows his side’s attacking will need to improve a lot. Star player Forsberg was hardly involved in anything of note before being substituted in the 84th minute. The one shining light was Isak who will be important if Sweden are to qualify for the knockout stages.

 

GROUP E WILL BE HARD TO CALL

With Slovakia eking out a win against Poland and a draw in the second match, this group will be one of the toughest in terms of qualifying. Spain’s lack of finishing acumen was on display in Seville, while Sweden failed to show any proper midfield control. Matchday two will be crucial in determining what the final rankings will be. Nobody will be surprised if the supposed favourites do fail to live up the expectations.

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