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Author: Mattia Fontana

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Spain began the European championship extending a series of record results and arriving at 13 matches undefeated in the competition. No one had ever done better in history, but the 1-0 against the Czech Republic confirmed a few difficulties in the scoring phase for La Roja. They took 17 shots, but only 5 on goal. They completed 91% of their passes (no less than 632) and they maintained ball possession for 67% of the time. But they had to appeal to Andrés Iniesta’s genius to unlock a rather rough match.
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Spain lined up with the traditional 4-3-3 formation. In the build-up phase, the two centre backs were supported by Busquets and another inside midfielder alternating between Fabregas and Iniesta. The fullbacks moved forward to spread out the play and to allow the team to build in the centre.

But the Czech Republic’s tight and compact 4-5-1 formation is the worst adversary to face for a team that tends to hold onto the ball a lot (partly for defensive reasons), without risking a deep play.
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Alvaro Morata played for the first 62’ of the match, taking 4 shots (a quarter of Spain’s overall attempts), plus two shots on goal (almost 50% of the team’s total). But despite this, it would appear that he did not solve the problems La Roja has in the finishing phase. The reason could be – paradoxically – the excessive involvement in the manoeuvre.

This play is an excellent example. After trying to draw a deep pass from David Silva and not receiving the set up, he tries to move closer to Juanfran to triangulate on the right side of the penalty area. All of this, however, prevents the team from having someone in the penalty area, partly because Nolito does not cut inside.
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Along with Morata, Nolito is Spain’s real news in Euro 2016, but not even he had that extra edge that was needed in the last 25 metres. The Celta Vigo forward wing moved as he does when playing with his club, starting from the left and looking for space to cut into the centre.

He usually takes advantage of this type of solution to create a situation for the individual finish. But in this type of play a back pass to the overlapping backs is necessary. In fact, playing against a closed team like the Czech Republic prevents a finish without first beating two or three men. Nolito has still not demonstrated that he is capable of the required teamwork. And for Del Bosque, this is a significant problem.
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Mattia Fontana
Mattia Fontana, Eurosport Italia editor.
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