From area to area, the draws against Sweden (0-0) and Poland (1-1) reveal a disturbing paradox in Luis Enrique’s Spain. The national team got little scoring profit from their dominance (somewhat in 29 shots) and was vulnerable on the few occasions that Swedes and Poles reached them. If the Red was not forceful with the goal in the first two games, neither was there in defense when its two rivals appeared in the vicinity of Unai Simón. Most of the nine auctions Spain has received have been live fire. A goal, two sticks, a shot by Lewandowski that caused the only stop for Athletic’s goal so far and the waste of the Swede Berg and the Pole Swiderski in the mouth of the goal reveal the Spanish defensive vulnerability in this European Championship.
Sweden finished off four times and in two of them they touched the goal. Marcos Llorente deflected a shot from Isak to the post in the first half after dancing to Laporte and sitting him down with three cuts. The play emanated from a mere prolongation of a short throw-in. Berg, with an empty goal, wasted the gift that the Real Sociedad striker gave him after a counterattack that highlighted the risks involved in Luis Enrique’s daring plan. The softness with which Marcos Llorente, Laporte and Pau Torres used to try to take the ball from Isak in the area was alarming.
“It is true that they have not reached us many times, but the situations have been dangerous. Sometimes it happens, but the rival also plays and has quality players who make a difference ”, defends César Azpilcueta. His substitution, after captaining the European champion Chelsea, in a selection plagued by rookies in major national team competitions is one of the decisions that Luis Enrique is most questioned.
“With possession and because of how we dominate the game, we can better control backlash situations, especially against Poland. These are aspects that we want to improve. We try to dominate, but we have to be solid in both areas because football is decided by small details ”, warns Azpilicueta. The Polish transitions were also highlighted by Luis Enrique himself at the end of the meeting.
A loss by Jordi Alba in the edge of the area was the origin of Swiderski’s shot to the post and the rebound that Lewandowski wasted by finishing against the body of Unai Simón. Shortly before, Swiderski himself threw a shot over the crossbar after a Lewandowski run. The play that led to the equalizer of the Polish captain once again showed the lack of defensive forcefulness. Moder maneuvered between four Spanish players in the midfielder, Klych received only in the front of the area and Jozwiak put unopposed the thread that Lewandowski headed to tie. The trade of a slight push with which the Polish striker won the space to Laporte describes the defensive tenderness exhibited on the few occasions that the Spanish defenders have been demanded.
“We try to dominate to create chances and have the fewest possible chances,” insists Azpilicueta. His presence as a full back or as a center back is one of the novelties that Luis Enrique is considering for tomorrow’s momentous duel against the Slovaks. If the Navarrese plays on one side, the coach could advance Marcos Llorente’s position. The location of the rojiblanco as a winger is the decision of the coach that has generated more debate. Since he was included in the list in the group of defenders, Llorente’s position has squeaked.
The use of two left-handed centrals, Laporte and Pau Torres, is another of those coach’s decisions tinged with personal commitment. “The center-back may be the position I demand the most from. With the idea of football that I have, it is a very complicated position because you have to be good attacking and good defending. It is a difficult position, but because of that requirement ”, explained Luis Enrique in September. By then, the coach was immersed in a
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