An analysis of how Spain began the hunt for their third crown with a late victory against Czech Republic

How did the reigning Champions see off Czech Republic on Monday afternoon?

An analysis of how Spain began the hunt for their third crown with a late victory against Czech Republic
Gerard Pique heads home the winner (photo: Getty Images)

Spain had central defender Gerard Pique to thank as they got the defence to their European Championship crown off to a winning start with a late winner against a stubborn Czech Republic side.

A familiar style from Spain 

The way in which Spain played was of no surprise, despite an introduction to some less common names in the starting eleven. They dominated possession with 68% of the ball, as they played their familiar style of short fluid passing. Though Spain were faced with dogged opposition who looked to defend their lines and break on the counter-attack. 

To be truthful, Czech Republic were hanging on by the skin of their teeth going into the final few minutes, against a Spain side who completely dominated the game. The reigning champions had a touch of the ball every six seconds on average and played much of the game inside the opposition's half. In contrast, Czech Republic managed only ten touches inside the Spain box.

Spain asserted their passing style on the game, with Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets beginning many of the moves usually involving Andres Iniesta. The trio made more passes than the whole of the Czech Republic team put together, with Ramos leading the way on a hundred.

Iniesta was head and shoulders above the rest on the pitch (photo : Getty Images)
Iniesta was head and shoulders above the rest on the pitch (photo : Getty Images)

Could a lack of bite up front cost Spain? 

The fact that almost half of Spain's passes were in the Czech Republic final third showed that they were not short of ambition but also proved how deep the Czechs were defending. The strategy frustrated Spain for much of the game but it was always going to be hard for Czech Republic to continue such a defensive approach for the whole 90 minutes. Eventually they were made to pay as the defence dropped onto the six yard line to allow Gerard Pique a close effort for the winning goal from Iniesta's cross.

Perhaps one concern for Vincent del Bosque is the lack of goals. Alvaro Morata, Nolito and Aritz Aduriz have scored plenty of goals in Serie A and La Liga this season, but failed to convert any of the seven shots they has between them against Petr Cech. A lack of tournament and international experience could prove their, and ultimately Spain's, downfall come the knockout stages of Euro 2016.