Spain's utterly illogical 1-0 defeat to Georgia in a friendly before Euro 2016 is but a faint memory now. In their tournament opener over the Czech Republic, Del Bosque's men hammered away long enough until they burst through in the 87th minute. That 1-0 scoreline perhaps wasn't reflective of how good Spain actually were, though today's result more than made up for it, and probably nullified any doubts that surrounded this team to begin with.
The trend was clear from kick-off. Spain would play with purpose, and they would spend the entire match carving out passing lanes in-behind Turkey's jumbled defensive lines. Iniesta continued his special run of form, releasing Alba and Nolito on the flanks - that triangle has been a deadly combination over the course of the last two games - and despite some sharp criticism spewed towards Nolito after the first match, his injection is clearly conducive to Spain's flow in taking a direct approach to the back of the net. Nolito scored the 2nd, and as usual, was a menace on the left flank.
He also found pockets of space in the middle. With Spain's ability to stretch the pitch with runs from Alba and Juanfran, players like Silva and Nolito can drift inside, and just when Turkey's defenders shift to stifle the flanks, Iniesta slips it inside - providing space just outside the area for a chance on goal.
Of interest to Madridistas, Alvaro Morata boosted his value with a tremendous performance, and Sergio Ramos played the full 90.
Morata, in the opener against the Czech Republic, couldn’t take his chances, though his movement overall was really good. Tonight against Turkey, he was the full package - scoring a brace, linking up well with the midfielders behind him, drifting wide to fling in crosses from the right flank, and resolute enough to force a great save from distance with a stinging shot. Just after his 2nd goal, he nearly netted his hat-trick, but his header drifted just wide.
Overall, a very active and encouraging performance from Morata, and Spain have finally found the solution to their long-enduring striker problem in the post-Villa era.
Goal: #esp 1-0 #tur, Morata: pic.twitter.com/ZlTzbcl9hj— FootballGIFs (@GIFsFootie) June 17, 2016
Sergio Ramos meanwhile, had a rocky start before setting himself into cruise control. In the first minute, he took a poor touch in a key area with no cover behind him - forcing him to react by committing a foul and committing himself to a yellow card. After that, he settled, and was, again, key for Spain in bringing the ball out of the backline.
The Iniesta - Ramos passing combo had the highest amount of passes of any two linking players on the pitch.
As of now, Spain have put in the most impressive performance of the tournament, and surely will ride this momentum into the knockout rounds. Though they’ve already qualified, they’ll look to beat Croatia and cement a first place finish to ensure an easier path to Saint-Denis.