Gerard Pique headed home a late winner for Spain but the reigning champions were frustrated for most part of the game despite dominating the Czechs.
We knew it early when the Mexican waves were floating around the stadium that this is not going to be one of those games where you want the front seat to be yours.
It was 90 minutes of chance-less possession filled football by Spain who were frustrated by their opponents and mainly by their own indirect and slow transition nature of play.
Very late in the game, Iniesta the most influential player on the pitch got the ball in the opposition penalty area only to put a great ball into the path of Pique to head home a winner.
Del Bosque went with a rigid 4-3-3 lineup with Busquets as the holding midfielder, Iniesta and Fabregas as wide midfielders mostly tucked in centrally to play the passing football through the centre in and out. Nolito was the winger on that left hand side cutting inside whenever needed, Silva was on the right side of forward line mostly tucked in between the centre-back and fullback. Morata was leading the line with no face in surprise. The surprise package was De Gea starting ahead of Casillas.
Let’s now take a look at Spain’s formation of today via tactics board and analyse few things how the game went about as far as the defending champions are concerned :-
As we see in the image above, how tight Spain play in the midfield which is required by the type of game they play, possession-based and tiring down opposition with excessive ball play and wait for mistakes or good passes to carve out the defence.
Today they were really tested by an astute defensive performance by Czech Republic but the Spanish side remained patient throughout the game for one major opening which came in the 90th minute when Iniesta picked out Pique pretty much unmarked.
As far as creative force is concerned, Iniesta had a good game in the midfield, he was teeing up well on that left hand side with Alba and Nolito, the Barcelona man was mostly tucked in centrally trying to take defenders with him for likes of Alba to run in from fullback and join the attack with less men marking. He was incisive in his passing as always, didn’t had much defensive work to do but his passing and link up play was great.
Silva had a quite day, he was tucked in most of the time allowing Juanfran to run the right hand channel providing width in the attack, the Manchester City man was marked quite tightly and even though he made one or two good runs, the overall impact by the Spaniard wasn’t there as we expect him to make. He never really linked up precisely with Morata too.
Fabregas too had a quite day against a tough defending side, he was quite pedestrian in his passing which allowed the Czechs to not mark him rather mark the player he’s about to pass the ball to, he never gave his passing a cutting edge which meant Silva had to drop deep a few times to gather the ball and do something with it, he tried to free himself up with the ball but the opposition midfielders never allowed him that kind of space or room to work out something substantial.
All in all it was a disappointing Spanish performance to be fair to say, they were dominant for most part of the game but never really threatened to breach the opposition every-time they go forward, there was an element of pedestrianisation in their play which allowed Czech defenders to get into their positions quickly and avoid the danger.
It’s a known thing that Spain loves to play in this way but the kind of display which was on show today will not please many Spanish supporters and boss Del Bosque, transition must be more smoother from defence to attack and forward play should be mixed with some direct and indirect play in it. As of today, they were too indirect never really tried long balls to catch the opposition off guard as such.
The reigning champions deserved the three points as their opponents never really threatened their defence but they know for retaining this crown, performance level needs an upgrade.
By Mizgan Ahmed on 13th June, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans