Spain given necessary shock, for which Alvaro Morata can be a striking solution

Andy Mitten takes stock of Spain's Euro 2016 standing following a dispiriting 1-0 loss to lowly Georgia, noting Alvaro Morata can be the answer up front to finish for what is the finest of midfields.

Spain's Alvaro Morata and Thiago Alcantara celebrate a goal in a friendly last week ahead of Euro 2016. Leonhard Foeger / Reuters / June 1, 2016
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Spain’s 0-1 friendly defeat to Georgia, a team ranked 137th in the world, on Tuesday could be just the shock to the system that the reigning European champions need.

If they’re celebrating a third successive European crown in a month in Paris then the friendly defeat – their first loss in 15 months – won’t matter one bit, but it exposed the niggling issues affecting Vicente del Bosque’s squad.

None of the other 23 competing squads could think of leaving out midfielders of the quality possessed by Spain, yet their worry has been the lack of a go-to striker.

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Midfielder Cesc Fabregas had even played further upfield in the false nine role beloved by amateur football tacticians, but Juventus’ Alvaro Morata looks set to lead Spain’s line. The Madrileno, who is about to leave the Turin club, missed the game against Georgia with a minor injury, but eight of the starting line-up could be expected to begin Spain’s first game against Czech Republic in Toulouse on Monday.

Spain’s back five of David de Gea; Juanfran, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba is their best, but it was they who were caught short against the Georgians. The defeat need not matter.

Spain enjoyed 80 per cent of possession, but Georgia were happy to defend as their Euro foes will have noted. Spain’s defensive record in qualification wasn’t bettered by any of the competing teams, but they have to get goals.

Aritz Aduriz didn’t impress against Georgia and Del Bosque maintains Morata can be a star. He’ll have a better midfield support – led by Andres Iniesta - than any other player in France.

There were doubts at the start of Euro 2012, before Spain improved to hammer Italy 4-0 in the final. There are doubts now, but this stylish Spanish team undoubtedly has the quality to retain the trophy.

Their group, featuring Turkey, Croatia and the Czechs, is sufficiently hard to get them well prepared for tougher matches.

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