Spain had 11 shots in the first half of extra time against Switzerland, one more than they had in the 90 minutes
|Uefa Euro 2020 on the BBC|
|Dates: 11 June-11 July. Venues: Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, Seville, St Petersburg. Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 Live, iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for more details.|
Spain are into the semi-finals of Euro 2020 – but only just.
And Spain may be the tournament’s top scorers but could a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal ultimately cost them?
Five of their 12 goals came against Slovakia in the group stages and they have played more minutes than any other team left in the competition, after needed extra time twice. In their other three games they have scored only once on each occasion.
Luis Enrique’s side had 28 shots in total against Switzerland – 10 on target – but they were wasteful, with goalkeeper Unai Simon picking up the man of the match award.
Spain have had a remarkable 69 more attacks than any other team in the tournament – an astonishing 235 more than England – as well as more corners than anyone else.
But they are making life hard for themselves by being so wasteful in front of goal. So could it cost them?
‘We don’t have the cutting edge’
The question is: why can’t they score?
Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata is leading the line for Spain but he has come under criticism in the tournament for failing to take his chances, even revealing his family has received abuse.
He failed to make a mark in St Petersburg and was the first to be substituted in the quarter-final, replaced by Gerard Moreno.
Villarreal’s Moreno, who netted 23 goals in 33 league appearances this season, had six shots when he came on and also failed to score – missing several huge chances in extra time. Only France’s Kylian Mbappe (14) has had more shots without scoring.
“The learning today is that you have to be lucky,” said Spanish football expert Guillem Balague. “When we conceded the goal I think we’d only had one shot on target in the whole game! We just don’t have the cutting edge.”
Spain have completed 3,856 passes so far – 1,515 more than any other team – and Balague believes a lack of creativity is also hurting the team.
“If Luis Enrique had his way they’d have continued attacking when they conceded in this game but the midfield was plain and didn’t have penetration.
“We didn’t manage the game well and sometimes we aren’t very brave. You don’t plan a route to the semi-finals that way… but it is what’s happening.
“And somehow here we are in the semi-finals. We seem to find ways to do it, by mentality, by dominating the ball.”
‘I feel a liberation that we have won’
The good news for Spain is that they are finding goals elsewhere.
They have had six different scorers so far – only one team has ever had more at a Euros (eight).
But Enrique insists he still backs his strikers.
“It’s pretty clear what Morata and Gerard [Moreno] have been through here,” he said. “They are both my players and I absolutely adore them both.”
Moreno added: “We had loads of chances, yes. But here, like in every game so far, we were the superior side.
“We’ll resolve our various errors by working on the training ground. You make a mistake and the test is being mentally strong. Right now I feel a liberation that we’ve won.
“If not, I think the misses would have played on my mind.”