3 things we learned from Spain v. Sweden

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Spain huffed and puffed, and huffed and puffed some more, but couldn’t make Sweden’s house budge as they settle for a 0-0 draw in the two sides’ EURO 2020 opener in Seville, Spain, on Monday.

[ MORE: EURO 2020 hub ]

As they typically do, Spain held an overwhelmingly majority of possession in the game, but — as they have done all too often in recent years — couldn’t break down the low defensive block of Sweden.


Three things we learned: Spain – Sweden

1. Possession doesn’t translate to points: Spain enjoyed an astonishing 85 percent of possession (that’s against Sweden, but no amount of sustained possession could make up for the frustratingly (and predictably) wasteful finishing of a forward line led by noted chance waster Alvaro Morata.

2. The possession was, however, impressive nonetheless: Here’s the thing about having the ball as much as Spain did against Sweden: it’s really difficult to do, to the point that doing so requires so very few misplaced passes over the course of 90 minutes that perhaps no other team in the world could actually pull it off. Also, it’s not as if La Furia Roja weren’t creating genuine scoring chances after stringing together 15, 20 and upward of 30 passes with ease. At least after one game, this feels strictly like an issue to do with the finishing and very little else. You’ve done loads of the hard work, now just put the chances away. Easy, right?

3. Morata not the only wasteful one: To be fair to Morata, Dani Olmo attempted two more shots than Morata did (3) against Sweden and also failed to score a goal, technically making him the worst offender of wasting scoring chances. The fact he managed to put two on target (to Morata’s zero) does help Olmo save face to a degree, though.

Man of the match: Robin Olsen – Had to make five saves on the day, including a pair of key stops late in the game.


Morata missed the target altogether with his best chance of the game, a one-on-one battle with Robin Olsen in the 38th minute. With Olsen all by his lonesome, Morata seemed destined to score and make good on Spain’s nearly 90 percent of possession to that point.

Sweden never truly grew into the game in the sense that they were anything close to Spain’s equals, but Alexander Isak didn’t miss the opportunity to put the team on his back and try to carry them over the line anyway. The 21-year-old striker was at the center of anything and everything good for Sweden, including this tragically wasted chance by Marcus Berg in the 61st minute.

Up next for Spain is a clash with Poland on Saturday (3 pm ET), while Sweden will face Slovakia the day before (9 am ET).

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