With the Spanish National Team dominating possession and slowly chipping away at an air-tight Czech Republic defense, they finally broke through via a Pique header in the 87th minute - subduing concern that this Spanish side isn't good enough to make it far in this tournament for the time being.
And overall, perhaps the dark cloud over Del Bosque's squad isn't as gloomy once you get to ground level. Despite having trouble breaking through lines of four, the team looked fluid and dictated play. This team might struggle to score buckets of goals, but they'll dominate through the intricate passing of Iniesta and Silva, and with Morata and Aduriz - combined with the aerial presence of Ramos and Pique - they'll have enough weapons to score goals and kill the game. Spain used the flanks tremendously well today, particularly the left side where Iniesta found the darting runs of Jordi Alba and Nolito.
Sergio Ramos captained Spain today and kept the defensive line high. At times, he stepped-up as a partner to Busquets in the anchor position, and at other times found himself even higher than the Barcelona midfielder. With Spain dictating the flow of the game, Ramos was involved as anyone - if not in directly creating chances, then in the fledgling stages of the build-up. He was always in proximity to Alba, Iniesta, and Busquets to ping-passes to, and the 51 combined passes between Ramos and Alba were the most of any other two-player combo in this match.
His passing dashboard shows how active he was - 92/100 passes completed.
Highlights of Ramos
Ramos' attacking passes
Player Rating: 7.0
Things I learned:
- Spain has now gone 600 minutes without conceding a goal in the European Championship.
- Spain has beaten the Czech Republic 4 out of 5 times. But could only score no more than two goals.
Spain vs Turkey in Nice, France. (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)