Spain Fail to Break Sweden Wall in Euro 2020 Group E Debut

Without the likes of Sergio Ramos on one side and Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the other, Spain – Sweden was likely to be a less sparkling match than one might have hoped for, but there was still plenty to enjoy at La Cartuja Stadium in Sevilla – even if the scorecard at full time read nil-nil.

Spain and Sweden failed to hurt each other in their first Euro 2020 game and grabbed one point each. If this was a boxing match, the Spaniards would have won by unanimous decisions. But since it’s goals that matter in football, the two sides shared the spoils as Luis Enrique’s selection paid for the lack of concreteness in the final third.

The Spanish coach surprised the world by deploying between the sticks Unai Simon rather than the more internationally famous David De Gea. The goalie, however, mostly ended up watching the game without paying the ticket as he was almost never called to action by the Nordic side. 

The Spaniards were the more active side and came close to trouble the scorecard in multiple occasions. Dani Olmo posed the first challenge with a close-range header, but former Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen sprung to the left and pushed the ball away.

On 28 minutes, Koke failed the tap in from a favorable position in the middle of the box. Seven minutes later, Sweden defender Marcus Danielson shockingly missed an easy clearance from a Jordi Alba cross and Alvaro Morata received the ball right onto his feet. The Juventus striker’s conversion attempt, however, ended a few inches too wide. 

The Nordics finally woke up on 40 minutes as Luis Enrique had to thank one of his goalposts for pushing back Aleksander Isak’s conclusion deflected int to the stick by Marcos Llorente. That was the first time Sweden showed themselves around Unai Simon’s area and resulted in the most dangerous scoring attempt in the first half.

Spain’s last chance before the break came from a Dani Olmo long range effort that found once again Olsen equal to the task.

Spain maintained command of the operations in the second half but failed to make themselves dangerous again. On the contrary, they run a major risk on 60 minutes, when a Swedish counterattack picked Isak in the middle of the box again. The Real Sociedad starlet got rid of his marker with a magic trick but his service for Markus Berg was brutally squandered by his teammate, who fired the ball into the stands.

Luis Enrique realized that something had to change and made his first substitutions as Pablo Sarabia replaced Alvaro Morata while Thiago Alcantara took Rodri’s place. Swedish coach Janne Andersson replied immediately by changing his whole offensive package, giving some playing time to Robin Quaison and Viktor Claesson. Nobody noticed the difference, if truth be told.

Luis Enrique’s next move was Gerard Moreno for Dani Olmo. Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz for Koke was the last change, with three minutes to go, when it had become clear that La Furja Roja was missing the right spark.

The ball possession remained in favor of Spain, but the Swedes defended themselves well and their wall held until full time, even if took another prodigious Robin Olsen reflex to defuse Gerard Moreno’s last-gasp header and keep the score at nil-nil.



June 13, 2021 – European Championship 2020 Group E

SPAIN (4-3-3): Unai Simón; Jordi Alba, Laporte, Pau Torres, M. Llorente; Pedri, Rodri (66′ Thiago Alcantara), Koke (86′ Fabian Ruiz); Dani Olmo (74′ Gerard Moreno), Morata (66′ Sarabia), Ferran Torres (74′ Oyarzabal) (De Gea, Traoré, Azpilicueta, D. Llorente, García, Gayà, Robert Sánchez) Coach: Luis Enrique
SWEDEN (4-4-2): Olsen; Lustig (74′ Krafth), Lindelöf, Danielson, Augustinsson; S. Larsson, Olsson (83′ Cajuste), Ekdal, Forsberg (84′ Bengtsson); Isak (69′ Claesson), Berg (69′ Quaison) (Helander, Svensson, Larsson, Johnsson, Sema, Nordfeldt, Jansson) Coach: Andersson

REFEREE: Vincic (Slovenia)
NOTES: Yellow Card: Lustig (S); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 5′