Spain advanced to the European semifinals as the highest scoring ladder in the tournament. However, do not be fooled.
The biggest mistake in Spain’s pursuit of a third continental title in the last four editions lies in its shortcomings from the front. Take, for example, only the victory over Switzerland in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals on Friday.
The Spaniards had 28 shots in a match that went to extra time and penalty kicks and in which the Swiss played about 45 minutes with ten men. In the end, it looks like the shooting practice against the overworked Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
Still, Spain ended the 120 minutes after having to rely on an own goal in a 1-1 draw, and even missed two of its penalty goals in a shootout with an error that the team won 3-1.
The problem for the Spanish coach, Luis Enrique, is that he has nowhere to go. The first-choice striker, Alvaro Morata, has the full support of his manager, but – not for the first time in his career – looks like a player who does not have confidence.
Gerard Moreno is the other striker in Spain’s Euro 2020 squad, replacing a tired-looking Morata after just 54 minutes against Switzerland. The Villarreal player, who scored 30 goals in Spain last season, got at least four clear innings – one that came from inside the six-meter mark – but each wasted it.
Of the 12 leading tournaments in Spain, Moreno has none, and Morata has two. “It’s pretty clear what Morata and Gerard went through here,” Enrique said.
Spain pushed through to the semi-finals in an unconventional way and scored its first two matches – only one of its 29 shots on goal against Sweden and Poland – and finally found a lead in a 5-0 victory in the must winning match against Slovakia.
Then came the wild 5-3 victory over Croatia in the round of 16, which was apparently a turning point for Spain’s attack. The match in Switzerland showed otherwise.
One thing that will satisfy Enrique is that Spain had six different scorers in Euro 2020. The midfield performs, with a tournament-high possession of 67.2% and the best passing accuracy of all teams at 89.4%.
According to UEFA statistics, Spain had 365 attacks at the tournament – 69 more than Italy in second place. Only three teams have more than 200.
It’s all well and good if there are strikers to finish them off. But that is not the case, as Spain go into a semi-final against a defending giant in Italy.