I’ve seen Spain’s Euro campaign so far compared to Portugal 2016. After all, that team didn’t win any of their group stage games in a relatively weak group and went on to win the title. It’s worth noting that Portugal side had themselves a pretty decent forward in one Cristiano Ronaldo whose threat altered the structure of every single defense they played (he contributed to six goals in the tournament) and also that they needed extra time against Croatia, a penalty shootout win against Poland, the good fortune to draw Wales, and extra time against France to win that tournament. If you think THAT will repeat itself for this side, well, good luck to you.
This Slovakia match is huge, not just for determining whether Spain gets to the knockouts, but for showing us whether this team is even competent enough to compete (keep in mind Portugal ended their group stage in 2016 scoring three goals in one match, which is more competent offense than we’ve seen from Spain in a long time).
Slovakia currently leads Spain in the group table, so a draw would see Spain finish at best third, relying on being one of the better placed third placed sides to advance (last I looked they were sitting okay in that regard). A Spain loss or a Spain draw and a Poland win over Sweden would almost certainly send them home.
Slovakia has stuck with a 4231 so far in this tournament. To be honest I have yet to watch them play so a more prepared analyst would be able to spout off all sorts of tactical insight. I’ve had myself a horror of a week so I just don’t have it for you.
I’m so mad at Luis Enrique that I’m really going to try to avoid ranting for a thousand words. Alvaro Morata for about three years now has averaged nearly one missed ‘big chance’ per 90 and he missed another one against Poland so I don’t think he’s somehow vindicated by scoring a goal. I hate that Gerard missed his penalty last match but since the start of 2020-2021 he’s what, 12/13? So I can’t be too mad at him.
But Luis Enrique was too pigheaded to even bring his full allotment of players. He wasn’t bright enough to bring more than one person who even has real experience at right back. He favored mediocre PL players off midtable sides over proven La Liga standouts. His midfield selections have been way too one note and the guy to fix that is stuck filling the right back role, plus having Llorente over there on the right forces Gerard to hug the touchline instead of being able to play how he plays best. He makes asinine substitutions like sending in Sarabia, who shouldn’t even be there... Anyway, I’ll stop. I could go on all day. If Spain do flame out of the group stage one major silver lining is that Luis Enrique would probably lose his job.
Here’s who he should start and won’t:
Spain draw Slovakia, Morata misses at least one chance he really ought to finish, Poland draw Sweden and we go down to the billion different tiebreaker variables to see if Spain goes through to the round of 16.