Spain will stick to its possession game at Euro 2016
SAINT-MARTIN-DE-RE, France (AP) Spain is going to stick to its game of quick passing and ball possession.
One game into the European Championship and it's obvious that the two-time defending champions are not changing their style despite their World Cup debacle two years ago, when the tiki-taka failed and Spain didn't make it past the group stage.
When the team plays Turkey on Friday in Nice in its second Group D match, Spain will be using the same formula used when it won the last two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup - keeping control of the ball and being aggressive with the final pass near the opponent's goal.
''Spain wants to keep the ball, that's the idea,'' defender Jordi Alba said on Wednesday. ''Teams play defensively against us but we are used to that. The scoring chances will be there. We had many in the first game and scored in the end. Hopefully against Turkey we will be able to win again.''
The strategy didn't do much against the tight defensive scheme of the Czech Republic in the opener on Monday, when it needed a late goal to earn a 1-0 victory, but the match against the more offensive Turkish team should play to Spain's advantage.
''There are several ways of playing the game and they are all valid,'' Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara said. ''It could be like they (the Czech Republic) played or by pressuring more up front. We have our own style and will use it to try to win the games.''
The Spanish had 67 percent of ball possession against the Czechs in Toulouse, the most of any team at Euro 2016 until then. They exchanged 694 passes with an effectiveness of 91 percent. They had 17 attempts and didn't score more goals only because of a combination of poor finishing and a great performance by Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech.
''We haven't done too bad in the last few years with this style,'' said Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, who has kept the same formula despite having to revamp the Spanish squad after several top players began to fade.
Spain will have a chance to secure a spot in the quarterfinals with a win or even a draw against Turkey, depending on the result of the earlier Group D game between Croatia and the Czech Republic.
Turkey coach Fatih Terim said his team will attack Spain as it tries to rebound from the opening loss to Croatia.
''I have never been the kind of coach who tells my players to sit back and try to clear as many balls as possible,'' Terim said. ''You cannot just go and play Spain without actually trying to play. If you just try to defend and try to close the goal, they will eventually open it up. Of course we will defend but we will try to play our game as well.''
Spain hasn't lost to Turkey in more than 60 years, since World Cup qualifying in 1954. It will be the team's first meeting at a major tournament.
Turkey, which was a semifinalist at Euro 2008 but missed the tournament in 2012, had two absences in training this week. Midfielder Mehmet Topal has had a right leg injury while defender Gokhan Gonul has been left low by a stomach ailment. It was unclear if either would be ready in time to face Spain at Stade de Nice.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni