Spain Loses with 1-2 Against Switzerland at UEFA 2022

Sep 27, 2022

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VILLA MARIN, Spain – One of the national teams with a structure and organization that is comparable to clubs is Switzerland. They have strong box pressing and defense, making them a difficult unit to break down. That is a well-known mismatch for a Spanish team that is particularly ineffective at both attacking and defending their own box. 

Six FC Barcelona players made up Luis Enrique’s starting eleven for the UEFA Nations League match that took place today at Zaragoza’s La Romareda stadium.

With Jordi Alba and César Azpilicueta at fullback, the lineup was fairly traditional. Pau Torres and Eric Garca were paired at center back.

Because of their direct style of play and set pieces, Switzerland took advantage of this defensive line’s weakness in defending the box. Two corner kicks, unsurprisingly, were the source of Switzerland’s goals. 

While Eric Garca’s goal may garner attention, Pau Torres had the greatest difficulty the whole game. It’s really challenging to defend Torres starting for Spain when he’s performing at this level and in a squad that doesn’t support his more passive defending style.

Luis Enrique started the attacking line with Marco Asensio playing the false nine position, Ferran Torres on the right, and Pablo Sarabia on the left. 

Asensio’s strengths were not emphasized in the role. Asensio excels in transitions and wide-open areas, but this role required him to regularly receive the ball between the lines and while up against some aggressive Swiss marking.

Asensio was by far the most effective Spanish forward even in this tough situation, with his talented left foot producing several dangerous passes.

Asensio made a few crucial shifts of play to the left side throughout the first half that assisted Alba and Sarabia with their shots and passes into the area.

Asensio also made some effective crosses into the penalty area, but Yann Sommer, the goaltender, intercepted them or the strong Swiss defense cleared them.

Asensio finally had an opportunity to demonstrate his impact in wide areas throughout the second half. In the 55th minute, Asensio received the ball close to the center circle and was able to turn around and run 20 meters past Swiss defenders while avoiding Elvedi’s tagging.

The Swiss defense was forced to concentrate on him due to his threat, which allowed Alba to sprint into a large opening on the left.

Alba was able to sprint into the box and finish with a powerful shot into the corner of the net thanks to a pass from Asensio, who made a cut inside to get past Manuel Akanji. 

Spain’s terrible set-piece defense, which allowed the second goal in the 58th minute, quickly neutralized Asensio’s efforts to tie the game.

Luis Enrique changed the whole front line in the 63rd minute, replacing Ferran, Sarabia, and Asensio with Nico Williams, Borja Iglesias, and Yeremy Pino.

Williams and Iglesias’ dribbling threat from inside the box helped the Swiss defense get shut down. Spain was able to spend the final 30 minutes of the game in Switzerland’s half of the field as a result, but they lacked the confidence to produce more effective chances and secure a point.

Overall, Spain is still not very strong in the box. While their attack struggles to win duels in the box to generate chances and shots, their defense line has significant difficulties defending their own penalty area.

Even while Spain has a strong possession and pressing structure by international standards, their problems in the box make it difficult to imagine them winning the World Cup. 

Luis Enrique and Spain will need to bounce back swiftly from this defeat and apply what they’ve learned as they face a potentially more difficult test this Tuesday when they play Portugal.

The hosts tied the score 10 minutes after the break on a cross-shot from a counterattack by Jordi Alba after Akanji had given them the lead with a header from a corner in the 21st minute. 

Embolo, however, scored the game-winning goal from close range from a corner three minutes later.

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