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SEVILLE, SPAIN – JUNE 14: Robin Olsen of Sweden claims the ball whilst under pressure from Gerard Moreno of Spain during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group E match between Spain and Sweden at the La Cartuja Stadium on June 14, 2021 in Seville, Spain. (Photo : Marcelo Del Pozo – Pool/Getty Images)
Spain and Sweden shared the spoils in their opening group game in Euro 2020 Monday as they played out a 0-0 stalemate. It was a frustrating evening for the Spaniards who were unable to break down a solid and stubborn Sweden defense.
Spain left frustrated in group opener against Sweden
Luis Enrique’s men were the dominant side the entire match, enjoying a vast majority of possession as they spent most of the contest inside Sweden’s own half. Unfortunately for Spain, they were not able to translate those into clear goal-scoring opportunities.
They did create some chances, though, in the opening half with the best opportunity falling to striker Alvaro Morata during that period. He was allowed in on goal after Sweden’s Marcus Danielson fluffed his attempted clearance but Morata was only able to side-foot his shot wide. Before that, Dani Olmo saw his close-range glancing header saved around the post by Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen who showed terrific reaction. Koke then came oh so close to scoring his maiden international goal but his two shot attempts went off target.
Such was Spain’s dominance in the first half that they completed 419 passes during this period alone – the highest figure ever recorded in the first 45 minutes of a European Championship match since Opta began collecting such data in 1980.
Despite Spain having majority of the possession in this match, the Swedes were also able to create some opportunities of their own. They came so close to breaking the deadlock when Marcos Llorente diverted Alexander Isak’s shot onto the post with the ball going into goalkeeper Unai Simón’s arms. Isak again was involved in another good attacking move for Sweden, finding Marcus Berg in the second half, but the striker was only able to scoop his shot over.
Villareal striker Gerard Moreno, who scored 30 goals for the Spanish club this past season, came off the bench in the 75th minute and nearly produced the match winner in second half injury time but his header was saved by Olsen. This result will heap more pressure on Luis Enrique who has been questioned regarding his player choices for this tournament, most notably leaving Real Madrid players from his squad, including defensive stalwart and captain Sergio Ramos.
The Spaniards will need to get the most out of their possession if they are to record the win in their next game against Poland on Saturday. Against Sweden, they had a whopping 85 percent of the possession and produced 17 shot attempts. They were wasteful, however, as they recorded just five shots on target in that game.
Slovakia, Czech Republic record wins
Slovakia and Czech Republic got their Euro 2020 campaigns off to a spectacular start as they notched impressive wins in their group openers on Monday. Slovakia shocked Poland, 2-1, with Milan Skriniar firing the match-winner in the 69th minute. Wojciech Szczesny had an opening game to forget for Poland as he became the first goalkeeper to score an own goal in European Championships history. Robert Mak’s attempt ricocheted off Szczesny’s shoulder and into the back of the net to give Slovakia the 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. Czech Republic, on the other hand, eased past Scotland, 2-0, with Patrik Schick scoring an impressive double.
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