Match Preview: Poland aim to kickstart their Euros against possession kings Spain

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Poland know they will see less of the ball than Spain in their second Group E match at Euro 2020 on Saturday but still hope to hurt Luis Enrique’s side with their own passing, coach Paulo Sousa said.

The Poles failed to improve their poor record in major tournament opening games on Monday as they lost 2-1 to lower-ranked Slovakia, and now need at least a point against Spain to still have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stage.

“We need to concentrate to hurt Spain; not only with counter attacks, with transition, but also creating opportunities with possession,” Sousa told reporters on Friday.

“Not the same possession as Spain, because Spain have had this game process for more than ten years, (and) we have just started. But we could do it,” he added.

Spain are not used to defending longer than 3-7 seconds without the ball.”

Sousa, who took over as Poland coach in January, said one of his key focuses has been a switch in his side’s mentality.

“We need to be positively aggressive, with a lot of determination,” Sousa said.

Poland hope Robert Lewandowski is more ruthless in front of goal than Sweden’s Marcus Berg, who squandered a huge chance to score in Spain‘s opening game, a 0-0 draw.

“Against Slovakia, Robert did a lot of things. When we were left with ten men, from the 62nd minute, he worked a lot defensively, more than usually,” Sousa said, justifying the 2021 European Golden Boot winner’s failure to score in that game.

Kamil Glik, who has won 84 caps with Poland and been a stalwart in defence since the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, said Poland are aware they have a big defensive task on Saturday.

“We need a little bit of luck, just like the Swedish team had,” the 33-year-old said.

Glik was one of the team’s pillars at the previous Euros, where Poland were surprise quarter-finalists, only losing out to eventual tournament winners Portugal.

“We have digested the defeat (against Slovakia) and the team is ready both on the mental and physical level,” Glik said.

“We want to achieve a clean sheet to get the result we want and that is winning,” Sousa added.

Spain coach Luis Enrique gave under-fire striker Alvaro Morata a vote of confidence by revealing he will start him in Saturday’s game with Poland after he missed a clear chance in the goalless draw with Sweden in his side’s opening Euro 2020 match.

“I’ve told Morata to keep doing what he is doing, to keep contributing everything he gives us in attack and defence. It will be Morata and 10 others,” the coach told Spanish network Cuatro on Friday.

Morata was booed by a section of the crowd at Seville’s La Cartuja stadium after missing the target with a gilt-edged chance and was also whistled by supporters in a friendly earlier this month against Portugal.

But Luis Enrique highlighted his other qualities whilst pointing out that only all-time top scorer David Villa had scored more goals for Spain than Morata’s 19 after 41 games.

“I told Alvaro to stay confident, because he does very important things for the team. But I don’t give him special treatment,” he said in a news conference marred by technological problems.

“And compared to the rest of the players here (at Euro 2020), only Harry Kane had scored more goals for his country than Morata after 41 games, not Kylian Mbappe, Robert Lewandowski or Romelu Lukaku.”

Morata insisted he was in good spirits despite the miss against Sweden, which he said was not as glaring as it looked.

“I’m very relaxed. I’ve been working hard to be here since I joined the under-17 team and I know that I can’t please everyone. When there’s criticism of your work you just have to respect that and keep working,” he said.

“I don’t know if the ball will go in or not but every time I put the Spain shirt on I’ll always give 100 percent.”

Spain welcomed captain Sergio Busquets back to the squad on Friday 12 days after he tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced into quarantine.

Luis Enrique called Busquets’ return “an important boost for everyone” and said he could field the player against Poland but would decide later in consultation with his coaching staff.