Spain’s striking struggles
The Spanish national team are very much going through a period of transition after the successes of the 2008-2012 period.
Gone are the days of the likes of Andreas Iniesta, Xavi, David Villa, Gerard Pique, Iker Casillas and Cesc Fabregas.
The level of quality in comparison is of a much more reserved level. For example, there is not a single representative of Real Madrid in the entire Spain squad for the Euros.
One of the key areas that Spain had historically struggle to find a consistent level of quality in is the striking department. Whilst Villa and Fernando Torres offered high-quality options, often Spain would opt to use a false 9 with the likes of Fabregas in the position.
Developing a style without needing a striker. Something Pep Guardiola has trialled at Manchester City this season with Kevin De Bruyne.
Diego Costa switched allegiances from Brazil to Spain and came in for the 2014 World Cup ironically in Brazil. However, he failed to assimilate smoothly into the Spain team and an embarrassing tournament saw them eliminated in the group stage.
Now the burden has fallen to Alvaro Morata. Alternatives are few and far between with Gerard Moreno a possible option and Iago Aspas too – although the latter was not even called up to the squad.
Morata has faced criticisms for his displays in the opening group games but has been able to put them behind him with the help of his coach.
Enrique’s backing of Morata
In an interview conducted ahead of Spain’s quarter final with Switzerland, Alvaro Morata spoke of the support former Barca boss and current La Roja head coach Luis Enrique has given him.
“I felt supported like never before in my career. He appreciated the things he did that had nothing to do with the goal,” said Morata when asked after his strike in extra time helped progress past Croatia.
When asked if Enrique asks him to play a specific way, Morata simply replied saying he does whatever he is asked to do.
“In the end it is different. Everyone on your team asks for what they think is good for the team. At Atleti I had to be in the area and in my team this year I have played more similar to what I do here. You have to do a little of everything. I am very happy to play here. We all go together and give it our all,” said the former Chelsea forward.
Fans in the Seville stadium have whistled Morata during the early rounds, unhappy with his displays. Morata, though. says he ‘sacrifices a lot’ in order to play for Spain.
“I know why they whistle me. I’ll say it later. It’s not everyone. There are people who may like me more or less, but who know that I sacrifice a lot for the National Team.”
Despite the jeers, Morata will likely start against Switzerland, offering the forward another opportunity to prove his doubters wrong.
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