Pique’s 87th minute header broke the deadlock as the Spanish side began their Euro 2016 campaign with a win against a resilient Czech Republic. Here’s a closer at the game and five important things we learned from it.
Iniesta is still the boss in the midfield
As age began to ascend, many people had predicted that Iniesta wouldn’t be the creative midfielder he once was. He proved them wrong as he played some exquisite long balls and kept things ticking in the midfield. Despite being 32, the Barcelona playmaker proved how important he is to the Spanish side. Another notable presence on the field was David Silva. The winger was an imminent threat to the Czech side and combined very well with Juanfran to produce momentum from the right flank.
The Czechs have Cech
One of the best keepers in the world, Cech once again showed his class as he made some blistering saves to keep the dominant Spanish attackers a bay. A brilliant example of his quick and accurate decision making was when he sneaked up behind Silva who made a cheeky run and received a great ball from Juanfran. He also denied Alvaro Morata a clear chance. Without Czech, the goal difference would’ve undoubtedly been very bigger.
Spain has striker problems
Alvaro Morata started in the #9 position and while he was always present in good positions and seemed poised to score, the striker lacked the end product. The striker wore the number 7 jersey, previously worn by Raul and David Villa, but failed to step into their shoes. He lacked finishing and looked frustrated after being denied by Cech. The youngster needs to step and be to his team what David Villa was in the 2010 World Cup. He was replaced by Aduriz at the hour mark, who barely made his presence felt. The omission of Fernando Torres and Paco Alacer (Spain’s top scorer in qualifiers) leaves Spain looking light in the striking department.
The Czechs can defend
A 1-0 victory may not seem like a big deal to those who didn’t watch the match but those who did know that the final tally does not represent the full story. Spain spent most of their time camped high up the opponent’s half and pushing forward with players like Nolito, Iniesta and Silva. Even Pique and Ramos moved very high up the field and played some decent long balls. But the Czechs stood their ground and kept them at bay. It was not until the 87th minute that they finally caved as Pique headed in the winning goal. Even Rosicky spent most of his time lying deep instead of playing ahead, where he likes to.
Busquets is the backbone of Spain’s defence
Yet again, he remains the unsung hero. When all outfield players, even the Pique and Ramos moved ahead of the halfway line to play essentially as holding midfielders, it was the actual holding midfielder Busquets who dropped in between them, in the Spanish half. On numerous occasions, he also filled in as a centre back and tracked back during counter runs when one of the actual centre backs trailed high up the field. Arguably the most underrated midfielder in the world, he once again might have gone unnoticed because, obviously, defending is not as glamorous and as noticeable as attacking.