Game of the Day: Spain vs Turkey, Nice, 20:00
Spain haven’t lost a game in a European Championships since 2004. An obvious fact giving that they are two time reigning champions, it does however just sound very impressive.
When I reviewed Spain’s first game against the Czech Republic, I pointed out the lack of an obvious world class no.9 for Spain and Del Bosque duly gave both Alvaro Morata and Aritz Aduriz air time against Petr Cech and co. Yet it took an 87th minute winner from a certain Gerard Pique to secure the three points. Spain looked good, they dominated possession, played some lovely intricate passing play on the edge of the box but the actual act of scoring seemed that it was going to be too greater ask. So are goals going to be a problem once more down on the Riviera?
When watching back the highlights of Spain’s first game, it’s almost a YouTube montage in honour of Andres Iniesta. The Barcelona playmaker was just simply brilliant. His eye for a pass, the space he creates and the way he floats with the ball at his feet is just a level beyond even anyone in this Spain side. After creating so many chances, it seemed only fitting that it would be an Iniesta cross that Pique would glance past Petr Cech.
Will Del Bosque start though Morata, Aduriz, or even opt for a false no.9 against Turkey? Spain have played in recent years with a false no.9, with the likes of David Silva and Cesc Fabregas both being that attacking pivot. As seen with Germany against the Ukraine however (when they played Mario Gotze as a false no.9), it perhaps leads to a more ponderous attacking threat. A criticism of Spain at times is one often levelled at Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. The want for the perfect goal, to walk the ball into the back of night and a false no.9 potentially exacerbates this issue as it isn’t a tactical move that encourages the early ball, or to exploit space in behind the defence.
If I were Del Bosque, I would choose Aduriz. His physical stature will offer Spain a presence up top that could push Turkey back, and create space in and around the 18 yard box. As seen by Aduriz’s attempt at an overhead bicycle kick, for a 35 year old, he has the ability to be imaginative and creative, to try and muster something out of nothing and with the likes of Silva, Cesc and Iniesta; it would be a foolish man who would bet against the Basque not scoring if given the 90 minutes.
Another thing that could lead to Spanish goals in this tie is Turkey. Against Croatia, Fatih Terim’s side could have been on the back end of the first rout of the tournament, especially if the Croatian pair of Darijo Srna and Marcelo Brozovic took their chances/didn’t hit the woodwork (Srna’s freekick was a proper gem).
If defensively Turkey may be lacking, Spain and in particular David de Gea, will surely have a little more to do than they did against the Czech’s. With the likes of Arda Turan, Hakan Calhanoglu and Oguzhan Ozyakup pulling the strings in the 3 of a 4-2-3-1, Turkey have creativity, the ability to hit a dead ball scenario and an intelligence in and around the box that Sergio Ramos and Pique will have to be weary of.
It will be a big ask for this Turkey side to stop Spain getting 6pts from two games and whilst it took until the 87th minute in Toulouse for Spain to break the deadlock, I predict a 2-0 victory here for Spain and their mighty unbeaten run to continue for a little longer at least.
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog