Monday, 13 June 2016

Euro 2016:- Spain 1-0 Czech Republic,


  • Barcelona defender Gerard Pique scored the only goal of the game with three minutes left on the clock
  • The European Championship holders struggled to find a way past Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech.
    With seconds left on the clock and Spain finally edging towards a victory that looked as though it may elude them, David de Gea finally did what David de Gea usually does.
    An afternoon spent largely as a spectator was almost up. Ninety minutes of almost incessant Spanish pressure had finally brought them a goal from Gerard Pique two minutes earlier.
    But one hopeful throw of the dice from a largely impotent Czech team saw the ball drop to Vladimir Darida 12 yards from goal and a viciously struck volley seemed destined to bring Pavel Vrba's team a point they really didn't deserve. 
    But De Gea makes big saves, whatever the occasion. And, after standing firm to parry Darida's shot upwards to safety, the days leading up to this game, days dominated by unproven allegations of involvement in a sex scandal, must have finally drifted in to irrelevance, for now at least.
    It wasn't the best save of De Gea's season. Far from it. It won't be the best of his tournament.
    But it was testament to the Manchester United goalkeeper's enduring quality and indeed his powers of concentration that he made it all the same.
    After much deliberation, Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque had chosen the correct goalkeeper and maybe this proved it.
    Given all the debate about De Gea's selection in the days leading up the game, it was ironic to note that Spain probably could have got away with fielding a goalkeeper at all during a first half they dominated.
    There have been some one-sided passages of play already in EURO 2016 but none as absolute as this. The only thing, quite critically, that was missing from Spain's performance in the opening period was a goal.
    De Gea was eventually called upon to make a save in the 44th minute, fielding a rising drive from Czech forward Tomas Necid at his near post. That apart, it was Petr Cech at the other end who was required to keep his own team in the game. The Arsenal goalkeeper touched the ball 24 times in the opening period. Only one of his outfield team-mates was statistically busier and that perhaps told the story.
    How Del Bosque's team didn't find the net early on, even they won't know. For the most part, the 2016 model of the Spanish football machine was unerringly familiar. At times they looked to go slightly more direct to their lone striker Alvaro Morata but you had to look hard to notice that.
    On the whole, much of what they did was instantly recognisable. Their best player was Andres Iniesta – we have said that before – while their full-backs provided them with a lovely sense of width and purpose down either side.