Friday, July 30, 2021

Pedri trusts Morata to find scoring form after Spain striker misfires

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Jun 2021

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Pedri has backed Alvaro Morata to prove he can be a leader in the Spain team after the striker had an off night in the goalless draw with Sweden.

Morata missed one particularly golden opportunity late in the first half when he fired wide from a clear chance inside the penalty area.

His ambitious attempt to curl the ball into the bottom-right corner suggested Morata was perhaps overthinking a straightforward task, and another squandered opening early in the second half did not reflect well on the experienced frontman.

“He’s feeling good. He is very strong mentally,” Pedri said on Tuesday in a Spain news conference. “He is a great player and gives us a lot. I am convinced that from now on the goals will come.”

Morata, who spent last season on loan to Juventus from Atletico Madrid, had three goal attempts against Sweden but did not hit the target with any.

The stalemate in Seville was a blow to Spain’s hopes of making a strong start to their Euro 2020 campaign, and Pedri, the 18-year-old Barcelona midfielder who was an assured presence in Luis Enrique’s team, hopes the public stand by the team. There were jeers on Monday night for Morata.

“It is much better to play when people applaud you than when they whistle at you,” he said. “I want to keep the applause, which helps us more.

“For me it was a game that we dominated from start to finish. They also had two chances, that’s true, but we played a great game and if we continue to create chances in the end the goal will go in.”

Spain had a staggering 85.1 per cent of possession and led the attempted passes count by 917 to 162.

Six different Spain players, including Pedri, each completed more passes than the entire Sweden team.

Pedri, on the night he became Spain’s youngest player in a major championship, matched Jordi Alba for a game-high 90 attempted passes inside Sweden’s half.

There were complaints in the Spain camp about the state of the pitch at La Cartuja, with Luis Enrique unhappy it was too dry a surface to be ideal for his team’s slick style of play.

The stadium is where Spain will play Poland in their second group game on Saturday, and they also face Slovakia there four days later.

Pedri agreed with his coach but said Spain should have been able to cope.

“The grass is no excuse,” he said. “We did not draw because of the grass, but it was not in the best condition. We hope that for the next game it will be better to be able to play our football.”

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