Spain will stick to its possession game at Euro 2016

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

SAINT-MARTIN-DE-RE, France (AP) Spain is going to stick to its game of quick passing and ball possession.

One game into the European Championship and it’s obvious that the two-time defending champions are not changing their style despite their World Cup debacle two years ago, when the tiki-taka failed and Spain didn’t make it past the group stage.

When the team plays Turkey on Friday in Nice in its second Group D match, Spain will be using the same formula that worked to perfection when it won the last two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup – keeping control of the ball and being aggressive with the final pass near the opponent’s goal.

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The strategy didn’t do much against the tight defensive scheme of the Czech Republic in the opener on Monday, when it needed a late goal to earn a 1-0 victory, but the match against the more offensive Turkish team should play to Spain’s advantage.

“There are several ways of playing the game and they are all valid,” Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara said. “It could be like they (the Czech Republic) played or by pressuring more up front. We have our own style and will use it to try to win the games.”

The Spanish had 67 percent of ball possession against the Czechs in Toulouse, the most of any team at Euro 2016 until then. They exchanged 694 passes with an effectiveness of 91 percent. They had 17 attempts and didn’t score more goals only because of a combination of poor finishing and a great performance by Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech.

“We haven’t done too bad in the last few years with this style,” said Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, who has kept the same formula despite having to revamp the Spanish squad after several top players began to fade.

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Spain will have a chance to secure a spot in the quarterfinals with a win or even a draw against Turkey, depending on the result of the earlier Group D game between Croatia and the Czech Republic. Spain and Croatia lead the group with three points each after opening 1-0 victories.

Spain hasn’t lost to Turkey in more than 60 years, since World Cup qualifying in 1954. It will be the team’s first meeting at a major tournament.

Turkey, which was a semifinalist at Euro 2008 but missed the tournament in 2012, needs to rebound from the disappointing performance against Croatia to maintain its chances of advancing to the knockout stage.

Coach Fatih Terim had two absences in training this week because, midfielder Mehmet Topal with a right leg injury and defender Gokhan Gonul with a stomach ailment. It was unclear if they would be ready in time to face the Spaniards at Stade de Nice.

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