A new look Spain side got their European Championships campaign off to a stuttering start. A lot has changed since they last lifted the wonderful trophy in 2012, and 2016 could be a year of transition for Vincente De Bosque’s men.
In the Czech Republic, Spain faced one of the least fancied sides in this year’s competition. Many of the players making up the Czech squad play domestically for sides such as Viktoria Plzen and Sparta Prague. With the stars of Real Madrid and Barcelona composing much of the Spain squad, the odds pointed heavily in their favour.
Throughout the dullest 90 minutes of the tournament, as expected, Spain did create some premium opportunities. Juventus frontman Alvaro Morata spearheaded the frontline, and was a constant threat for a makeshift Czech Republic backline. Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech had to be at his brilliant best to deny Morata numerous times in the second half.
Nearly an hour was played before the Czech’s registered their first effort on target. Roman Hubnik stretching to meet a Ladislav Krejci free-kick. Moments later Cesc Fabregas would have to be on defensive duty to clear another set piece effort away from the danger area.
Veteran Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz was introduced for his eight cap in Spain colours as they went in search of the winning goal. Now 35, Aduriz was competing in his first tournament for his nation, a proud moment for a man of his age.
It looked though he nor the seasoned Spain internationals could find a pivotal winning goal. But a cultured ball from so often the talisman for Spain Andres Iniesta allowed Gerard Pique to nod in and give Spanish supporters the relief of an opening day win. But Vincente Del Bosque’s side will need to improve dramatically in their two remaining group games.
Final Score – Spain 1-0 Czech Republic
Man of the match – Andres Iniesta