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Spain vs Poland: Match preview

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Could Gerard Moreno help La Roja get back to winning ways?

Spain v Sweden - UEFA Euro 2020: Group E Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Spain will be looking to secure a first win of Euro 2020 on Saturday, when Poland visits La Cartuja for the matchday two fixture. La Roja kicked off its tournament in frustrating fashion earlier this week, as a lack of chance creation and a resolute Swedish defence saw the game finish goalless. Like Spain of old, Luis Enrique’s team had all of the ball and were in complete control, but at times the approach seemed to be keeping possession for the sake of it. There was a lack of risk-taking and end product, something that needs to be addressed if Spain is to go far. A win against Poland would all but guarantee a spot in the last-16, and depending on the result of the Sweden vs Slovakia game, could take the fight for top spot in Group E to the final day.

Spain

The big news in terms of personnel is that Sergio Busquets is back training with the team at Las Rozas, having recovered from Covid-19 and returned several negative PCR tests. However, due to a lack of training the Barcelona midfielder is expected to be involved against Slovakia next week rather than on Saturday. Once again unable to call upon Busquets’ lock picking-like passing ability, Luis Enrique’s side will need to figure out how to penetrate what could be a low defensive block, something it struggled to do against Sweden. We expect Rodri to again deputise in his absence; the Manchester City man is a more defensive option, but that may be just as well with Robert Lewandowski in town.

Who Luis Enrique should pick as his number 9 has been another big pre-match talking point. Alvaro Morata and Gerard Moreno are the two options, but we reckon that both could start against Poland. Morata’s all-round play and defensive work was excellent against Sweden, but when it came to finishing, he looked rusty and lacking in confidence. This was illustrated by his one v one miss in the first half, when he curled wide of Robin Olsen’s goal. By contrast, Gerard Moreno looked sharp and lively during his brief cameo. His introduction sparked a late rejuvenation in Spain’s attacking intent, and while he missed three chances in the final ten minutes, one which he really should have scored, Spain’s attack looked a deadlier proposition with him in it. The solution could be to switch Ferran Torres out for Gerard, with the Villarreal man playing on the right of an attacking three. He’s perfectly capable of playing there, and dropping Morata could disrupt the stability Spain enjoyed on Monday.

Otherwise, we think the starting XI will stay largely unchanged. Against Sweden, Pedri and Koke were excellent in midfield, as was Jordi Alba at left-back, while Dani Olmo impressed on the left wing. There’s an argument for starting Thiago Alcantara instead of Rodri to help with chance creation and vertical ball progression, but we don’t think Luis Enrique will make the change just yet.

Here’s how we think Spain will line up:

The opponents

Poland looked surprisingly lacklustre all over the pitch in an opening game defeat to Slovakia. Defensively, The Eagles struggled to deal with the pace of Slovakia’s wide men and the directness of their counter-attacks. The opening goal came from the left-hand side, with Robert Mak easily bypassing defender Bartosz Bereszyński before firing home. This could be an area for Dani Olmo to exploit. Up front, the usually imperious Robert Lewandowski barely had a touch, a lack of quality support leaving him isolated. Poland doesn’t have many quick players, so if as expected Spain dominate possession, a counter-attack approach could be tricky for the Eastern Europeans to pull off. It must be said though that the goal Poland scored against Slovakia was extremely well worked team effort, enabled by Lewandowski occupying the defenders and creating space. Poland can still be dangerous.

Prediction

Poland’s defence looked porous against Slovakia, and with little quality support, Lewandowski didn’t look his usual deadly self. We don’t see Spain’s undeniable quality faltering for a second consecutive game, so we’re going with a 3-1 Spain win.