2020 European Championship, Group Stage

Spain miss chances in goalless draw against Sweden at Euro

Spain were held to a disappointing goalless draw against Sweden in their 2020 European Championship opener in Seville on Monday night.

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La Roja were all over Sweden throughout an entertaining first half, dominating possession and coming close on several occasions without finding the back of the net.

Alvaro Morata missed a glorious chance to open the scoring in the 38th minute when he found himself alone in the box with only the keeper to beat, but he missed the target altogether and the game went into the break in a 0-0 draw.

"With Alvaro Morata I saw two reactions, one was perhaps more critical, but I'll focus on the second one from the fans, supporting and singing his name," said Spain manager Luis Enrique. "As coach my job is to try to improve and protect my players, of course I'm happier with the reaction of the crowd in the second half when they sung his name. We all want to feel loved.

"For me, Alvaro played a really good game except for taking the chances which we all want, but his teammates had chances too. I think he's used to it although it isn't pleasant, it would be more pleasant to be supported, but we respect it, it's football."

Sweden's Marcus Berg was equally wasteful when he somehow missed the target after a sensational piece of skill and cross from fellow forward Alexander Isak, who had manoeuvred his way past four Spain defenders to put the chance on a plate.

Dani Olmo came closest for Spain as the second half wore on, but his shot from the top of the penalty area was cleared to safety by Marcus Danielsson in the 72nd minute right before the RB Leipzig attacker was withdrawn by Luis Enrique.

This was a deeply frustrating start to the tournament for three-time European champions Spain, who broke a competition record for the most passes in the first half while ending the game with 85% possession and 917 passes, according to Opta.

Both sides had their tournament preparations rocked by two COVID-19 positives each but Spain were hit hardest as captain Sergio Busquets missed the game and the remaining players had to train individually for the next five days.

Busquets' absence left Spain with no members of their 2010 World Cup winning side on the pitch. However, Luis Enrique had challenged his young side to lead themselves and they took the game to Sweden with their usual slick passing game and caused a fair amount of danger.

Teenager Pedri, a surprise starter over the far more experienced Thiago Alcantara and Fabian Ruiz, brought a sense of flair and excitement to their game while Dani Olmo was a handful for the Swedes down both flanks and in the box.

"The team leave feeling bad after all the effort we made and the chances we created but we have two games left and we'll try to do better. If we played like that in 10 games we'd have won nine of them," said Spain's Aymeric Laporte.

"We just lacked a goal today, on some days we'd score five, others none. But we're not worried, it wasn't meant to be today but it'll come off for us in the next game."

Sweden dug in defensively for the rest of the match and saw out the hard-earned point with keeper Robin Olsen making a critical save on a Gerard Moreno header shortly before full-time.

"We don't care too much about how many passes they have as long as they don't have too much time in the centre. At the end of the day it is about scoring goals and not conceding any," said Sweden defender Victor Lindelof.

"I think they became really frustrated. They had a lot of possession but the longer the game went on the more frustrated they became, which was good for us."

Next up for Spain is a Saturday match against Poland, while Sweden will play Slovakia on the same day.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.