Spain 1-0 Czech Republic: Defending champions start with a narrow win

Spain 1-0 Czech Republic
Thiago Alcantara of Spain during Group-D preliminary round between Spain and Czech Republic at Stadium Municipal on June 13, 2016 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Manuel Blondeau/Icon Sport)

By Andy Jones

  • De Gea selected in goal for Spain
  • The United keeper had a quiet afternoon as Spain dominated

Defending champions Spain started the defence of their European crown with a narrow one nil win, with former United defender Pique scoring a late winner.

All the talk pre match was whether spain would start with De Gea in goal, or amid the recent tabloid publicity stick with the tried and trusted Casillas.

The United number one did indeed start, and now looks to be Spain’s first choice keeper for many years to come.

The Spanish dominated the match, tiki taka football against a rigid Czech side, containing many players coming to the twilight of their careers.

The fact that Thomas Rosicky is a key player, despite hardly featuring for Arsenal this year made The current European champions the clear favourites.

For all Spain’s dominance, they struggled to break down the Czech rear guard, 67% possession tells its own story, and De Gea was rarely called into action.

Spain continued to probe, unflustered by the stubborn opposition, and refused to revert to pumping the ball long, sticking with their footballing traditions.

In the 87th minute, a delightful chip from Iniesta, found former United defended Pique, who glanced the ball past Cech.

There was still time for a heart in the mouth moment as De Gea saved a fierce shot at point-blank range, to secure all 3 points for the Spanish who will surely face rougher tests against Croatia and Turkey.

For all their dominance, Spain only managed 5 out of 15 shots on target, and the lack of a truly world class centre forward might see them come unstuck in the latter rounds.

The win leaves Spain level on points with Croatia on three points, who beat Turkey 1-0. Spain’s next group fixture sees them playing Turkey on Friday.

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