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Spain running risk of embarrassing early Euros exit after dramatic Poland draw

Spain are living on the brink in Group E after once again failing to make their superiority count in a 1-1 draw with Poland in Seville.

In a similar story to their 0-0 stalemate against Sweden on Monday, La Roja totally dominated possession yet failed to make a number of clear-cut chances count.

And although a victory against Slovakia next week would guarantee them a place in the last-16, there will be plenty of fingernail biting throughout the whole country ahead of their final group stage game next Wednesday, especially given how well Slovakia have acquitted themselves so far.

Ahead of tonight’s match, much of the talk in the Spanish press focused on the beleaguered and unconfident Alvaro Morata.

Alvaro Morata scored but was again hit-and-miss against Poland

Vilified and ridiculed following his woeful showing against Sweden, in which he missed a number of superb chances, many suggested the Atletico Madrid striker should be dropped in favour of the popular Villarreal forward Gerard Moreno.

La Roja boss Luis Enrique publicly backed Morata to the hilt, but did give Moreno his chance by opting to start with both players, with Manchester City’s Ferran Torres making way.

And it’s fair to say both Moreno and Morata had mixed nights in what was a topsy-turvy encounter.

The two combined for Spain’s deserved opener on 25 minutes, with Moreno’s cross-cum-shot ending at the feet of Morata, who was alert and this time made no mistake with his close-range finish

Although the former Chelsea man was initially flagged offside, it was again refreshing to see just how quickly and effectively VAR was used to overturn the call.

And one can only hope that those at Stockley Park are not too stubborn to watch and learn from how much better the system has been implemented in this tournament than the farcical nature of its existence in the Premier League.

Alvaro Morata embraced his manager after the opening goal
Morata embraced his manager after the opening goal

Morata ran with joy towards his coach Luis Enrique as soon as the goal was awarded, and the latter’s public show of support this week has proved to be a stroke of man-management genius.

Poland were hugely unlucky not to equalise just before the break when they exposed Spain’s frailties as first Tymoteusz Puchacz struck the post and then Robert Lewandowski could only blast the rebound at Unai Simon.

When even the great Bayern Munich striker is unable to score such a clear-cut chance, you start to get the feeling that this simply won’t be Poland’s tournament.

But unlike with Morata, you can’t give Lewandowski more than one chance without being punished, and he did just that to the Spaniards on 53 minutes when he rose to brilliantly head home from Kamil Jozwiak’s cross.

Just seconds later, however, the hosts looked to be back in the ascendency, with that man Moreno in the thick of it again to win what looked like a soft penalty.

But justice was served when he could only strike the post from the spot, with Morata unable to convert the rebound in a hugely dramatic couple of minutes.

It means Spain have now missed their last four penalties in a row, a statistic which rather neatly sums up how much they are missing that clinical finisher in the mould of David Villa or Fernando Torres.

They continued to huff and puff, but despite a further flurry of chances Spain were unable to get the breakthrough, and just like against Sweden they also looked culpable from the counter-attack on the odd occasion.

Robert Lewandowski equalised with a towering header
Robert Lewandowski equalised with a towering header

Luis Enrique’s side seem more slow and laboured than some of the more impressive teams in this tournament, and you wonder whether their possession based tiki-taka tactics belong in the past, with more direct football appearing more successful in this day and age.

Poland’s point keeps them alive in the competition, and the group is deliciously set up going into the final round of fixtures, with just three points separating top and bottom.

It is not a situation Spain will be relishing.




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