Misfiring Spain held to 0-0 draw by Sweden at Euro 2020

AP , Monday 14 Jun 2021

Spain dominated possession and stayed close to the Swedish net for most of the match but couldn't capitalize on its many scoring opportunities at La Cartuja Stadium.

Sweden's Albin Ekdal, left, is tackled by Spain's Alvaro Morata during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group E match between Spain and Sweden at La Cartuja stadium in Seville, Monday, June 14, 2021. (Photo: AP)

The chances came and went but neither Spain nor Sweden managed to put any of them in the net.

Spain dominated possession and kept the pressure on the opposing area for most of the match but the Swedes held on for a 0-0 draw Monday at the European Championship.

Sweden managed only a few chances at La Cartuja Stadium, but they were some of the most dangerous ones.

Alexander Isak, who plays for Spanish club Real Sociedad, had a shot from inside the area hit the post after deflecting off Spain defender Marcos Llorente in front of the goal line.

Early in the second half, Marcus Berg was inside the area with the ball coming his way, but he mishit his shot.

Alvaro Morata had Spain's best chance just a few minutes before Isak but his shot missed wide with goalkeeper Robin Olsen the only opponent to beat. Olsen also saved a close-range header by substitute Gerard Moreno in the 90th minute.

Spain pressed until the end, but kept misfiring.

In the other group match, Slovakia defeated Poland 2-1 in St. Petersburg.

Spain's matches at Euro 2020 are being played in Seville instead of Bilbao _ the original host city for the continent-wide tournament _ because the high contagion rate of the virus in the northern city wouldn't allow for many fans to attend games.

A limited crowd of 12,517 attended the match at La Cartuja, where Spain will also play Poland on Saturday and Slovakia on June 23. A quarterfinal match will also be played at the stadium.

Sweden, which hasn't advanced past the group stage at the European Championship since 2004, next faces Slovakia on Friday in St. Petersburg. The Swedes will also play in Russia against Poland.

Both teams were without players because of the coronavirus. Spain lost captain Sergio Busquets and Sweden was without Mattias Svanberg and Dejan Kulusevski. They were all still in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

The entire Spanish team was vaccinated just days before its opening match.

Spain coach Luis Enrique started with Rodri Hernandez in Busquets' position, with youngster Pedri Gonzalez and Koke Resurreccion alongside him in the midfield. The 18-year-old Pedri became Spain's youngest ever player at the tournament.

Both sides are also without their veteran stars at Euro 2020. Sergio Ramos was left off the Spain squad after playing sparingly for Real Madrid this season because of injuries, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic _ who ended his retirement from Sweden's international team in March _ couldn't make it to the tournament because of a knee problem.

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