Spain v Czech Republic – Stadium Municipal at 14:00 live on ITV
European Champions Spain play the Czech Republic in the 1st match of Group D on Monday afternoon.
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Spain topped Group C in qualifying, winning 9 out of 10 qualifiers and their only defeat came in the away game against Slovakia early on in their campaign. Losing to Slovakia certainly caused a stair in the Spanish camp as their 2-1 defeat was their first loss in a qualifying game for 8 years.
However, Vicente Del Bosque’s side responded by recording an impressive 8 consecutive victories, as well as 8 clean sheets. What a way to bounce back!
Spain only conceded 3 goals in qualification, but I think it is at the other end of the field that Spain may struggle this tournament.
Alvaro Morata and Aritz Aduriz are Spain’s only 2 available strikers after Diego Costa was left out of the Spanish squad and the former is currently battling a hamstring issue, which he picked up during a friendly victory over South Korea. This leaves Spain light up front to say the least!
Vicente Del Bosque’s side are really missing a prolific number 9, as exemplified by their 23 goals scored in the qualification process, which were netted by 13 different players.
In addition, on Tuesday evening Spain shocked the nation after suffering a 1-0 defeat at home to Georgia (ranked 137th in the world) in their final international friendly before the tournament begins. Whether or not this will prove to be a bad omen, we will have to wait and see.
The Czech Republic also topped their group (A) ahead of Iceland, Turkey and the Netherlands, despite finishing with the worst defensive record out of any qualifying team, having conceded 14 goals in qualifying.
However, the Czechs do have the safe hands of Petr Cech between the sticks who is definitely up there with one of the best goalkeepers in the tournament.
The Czech Republic won 7, drew 1 and lost 2 of their 10 qualifying games, but Pavel Vrba’s side are evidently lacking star quality bar a few names such as Tomas Rosicky, although he lacks fitness and missed the whole season with Arsenal through injury.
Both these sides were drawn together in the qualification for Euro 2012 and Spain won both matches by a 2-1 (home) and 2-0 (away) scoreline.
In 2012, the Czechs managed to reach the last 8 of the competition, although surpassing the group stages this time round will be a tough task in itself, with the likes of Croatia and Turkey also battling it out for 2nd spot, as it is assumed Spain will comfortably top the group.
Spain’s defence is very solid and I can’t see the Czechs causing them too many problems. Despite lacking a prolific number 9, Spain have quality players all over the pitch, all of whom can contribute to goals and therefore I recommend backing Spain -1 on the Asian Handicap betting market, as I can see Spain winning by a few goals.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Spain -1 @ 1.85 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.