The sense of relief was widespread when Gerard Pique powered home Andres Iniesta's cross three minutes before the end of Spain's opening game with the Czech Republic. The defender's header earned the defending champions a 1-0 win and while the goal took a long time to come, it would be impossible to suggest that the victory was not deserved.
Indeed, the headline on the front cover of one of Spain's numerous sports dailies suggested that this Roja team had "excited" the public and the general feeling is that there is more to come from Vicente del Bosque's men.
Their opponents on Friday are a Turkey side who were comfortably beaten by Croatia in their opening game and while the result was only 1-0, the Turks were clearly inferior. They will need a huge performance to get anything from their second game in Nice, where Betway offer them at 17/2 (9.50) to claim three points. Spain are priced at 2/5 (1.40) and the draw can be backed at 10/3 (4.33).
One of the reasons why the opening result was greeted with optimism back in Spain is that they created plenty of chances before scoring. That La Roja did not win by three of four goals was down to a combination of profligacy, heroic defending and magnificent goalkeeping.
The opportunities to score kept coming, however, and their patience pleased Del Bosque. At the other end, David de Gea, who had made headlines for off-the-field reasons before the game, had precious little to do, although when called into action late on he produced a fine save.
The goalkeeper should once more have a quiet evening with Spain likely to dominate possession and Turkey likely to sit back and defend in numbers, the approach taken by the majority of teams who face the reigning European champions.
In the opening game we backed Spain to win without conceding and a repeat selection looks tempting at 21/20 (2.05). The only team to have scored a goal against Spain in their last 10 matches at the European Championship was Italy in 2012. Three of their last eight matches at the Euros have ended in 1-0 wins and a repeat is offered at 17/4 (5.25) for those punters seeking higher odds.
|Spain to win to nil at 21/20 (2.05) for a 1.5pt stake with Betway|