Mark O’Haire’s Euro Tips – Spain v Turkey
Spain’s attempt to win a record third European Championship in a row began with a last-gasp victory over the Czech Republic but the result has put La Roja in a strong position to pinch a top-two finish in Group D.
Spain v Turkey, Friday 17th June 2016 (20.00), ITV, TV3
Vicente del Bosque’s boys now face a Turkish outfit that were outclassed by an excellent Croatian side in a 1-0 defeat and now face an uphill battle to qualify for the next round. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see this Nice contest follow a similar pattern on Friday.
Despite ‘boring’ and ‘dull’ jibes from farcical figure Robbie Savage, Spain impressed in their opener, even though it took them until the 87th minute to break down a poor Czech Republic side through Gerard Pique’s header.
Slow Spanish Starters
Alvaro Morata, Jordi Alba and David Silva had earlier efforts saved as the holders lacked a cutting edge and it should be said, La Roja survived two scares when Cesc Fabregas hooked a Theodor Gebre Selassie header off the goalline and Vladimir Darida had a chance to equalise only for David de Gea to block his volley from 10 yards.
With a history for starting major tournaments slowly, this was always likely to be a potential banana-skin for the Spaniards. A bunch of squad members were late joining up to their pre-tournament training camp following Champions League commitments but in fairness, del Bosque’s group showed few signs of rustiness.
During a dominating first-half, Spain enjoyed 74% possession and made 378 passes but still failed to engineer a breakthrough. An underwhelming performance from Alvaro Morata in attack has continued the debate over who should lead the Spanish attack but La Roja showed more urgency after the break and especially so when introducing Aritz Aduritz.
Only five of their 18 shots landed on-target but nevertheless, del Bosque was pleased with his team’s performance. The result makes it nine competitive wins on the spin for Spain – their longest competitive winning streak since 2009 – and they’ve not conceded a single goal in that spell.
Incredibly, La Roja haven’t tasted defeat in this tournament since 2004 (W10-D3-L0) with Spain shipping just a solitary strike in their last 10 Euros outings. Despite the shambles of a disastrous World Cup in Brazil, their ability to dictate games and monopolise possession should stand them in good stead here.
Spain will enjoy a day’s less rest than the Turks but del Bosque’s boys weren’t overly stretched in their opener. In contrast, the Crescent Stars found the going tough against Croatia. Fatih Terim’s team were outshot (on-target) 19-9 (6-2) and were no match for the pre-match favourites.
With Burak Yilmaz not fit enough to start, second-string Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun was asked to lead the line and failed to make a major impact. Arda Turan struggled to find his best form after a season on the sidelines and highly-rated Oguzhan Ozyakup was pulled at half-time.
Luka Modric’s sensational long-range volley proved decisive but Croatia created numerous chances to extend their lead and twice hit the woodwork. Despite being roared on by their passionate fans inside the Parc des Princes, Turkey were a distinct second best.
Emre Mor’s arrival after 69 minutes was greeted by a huge roar from the Turkey fans and many Crescent Stars fanatics are hoping the prodigious playmaker will be given a start here but the underdogs are likely to be starved of possession and may struggle to make inroads against the defending champions.
Spain are understandably skinny (4/9) in the pre-match prices but following a familiar path, backing La Roja to win 1-0 (5/1) or 2-0 (5/1) looks our best avenue of attack. It proven a profitable formula in five of La Roja’s last six qualifying successes as well as seven of their past 11 major tournament wins.
For punters after something even more enticing, the Half-Time/Full-Time Correct Score features a 0-0/1-0 Spanish win at 9/1 with a 0-0/2-0 Spanish victory at 16/1.
But we’ll play it safe with the former options.
Spain to win 1-0 (5/1)
Spain to win 2-0 (5/1)
*Prices correct at time of publication