The Spain squad has thrown up some surprises and we have some data to help you with your bets for the tournament. There are very few standout names in the team so we’ve looked at the top performers in qualifying.
Spain are a far cry from the team that dominated international football between 2008 and 2012. They aren’t able to restrict their opponents as they once could, and there is a lack of cutting edge in the final third. Enrique isn’t blessed with an elite forward line, but there are several talented young players that have the ability to step-up and deliver.
Thiago and Sergio Ramos are the big name absentees. Their omission from the squad means there is a lot of pressure on those who play instead. Spain will be hoping to make a solid start and build momentum from there. The team are 5th favourites to win the tournament with most bookmakers. They will need to perform far better than they have in recent major tournaments.
Top 3 – Goal Contributions In Qualifying
Ferran Torres was the main goal threat for Spain during the qualifying campaign. He featured out wide as part of a front 3 and was a constant threat when cutting inside. Torres has good passing range and he is favoured in this team for his abilities to recycle possession and help Spain sustain attacks. He scored 4 goals during qualifying. Surprisingly, the winger failed to register a single assist. It is likely that Alvaro Morata will play as the number 9 for Spain. Enrique will be hoping that Torres can help create chances for the center-forward, as well as score himself in Qatar.
Barcelona overhauled their squad in the summer. This has left Ferran fighting for his place in the team. The former Man City midfielder was signed for a large fee, but he has started just 8 games for the Catalan side this season.
The fact that a full back had the joint most goal contributions is perhaps indicative of Spain’s lack of goal threat. Enrique’s men have only scored more than 1 goal in 3 of their last 10 competitive matches. In Spain’s defence, Alba has been one of the best attacking full backs in the world. He is no longer at the peak of his powers, but his 4 assists in qualifying show that he can still be a threat.
The Barcelona man has started 10 games for the club in all competitions and registered 2 assists. He faces competition for his place in the national team as well. But he scored in his most recent start for Enrique’s side and looks the favourite to start at left back in the opener.
Morata has been favoured by Enrique for much of his time in charge of the national team. However, Enrique has said Asensio could feature as a false 9 so Morata’s place in the starting 11 is far from sure. He chipped in with 2 goals and an assist in qualifying and had 27 goals in 57 caps. Morata has seldom been a prolific striker. He is capable of stretching the opposition’s defence and remaining alert in the penalty area.
Morata has made a solid start to the season with Atletico Madrid. Simeone’s side have struggled to gather momentum. They face a battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League and they were knocked out of this year’s competition in the groups. Despite this, the Spaniard has found the net 5 times in La Liga.
During qualifying, Spain scored 73% of their goals against the 2 lowest-ranked sides. This lack of creativity has continued in recent matches. They are averaging just 10.7 shots per game in their last 10 internationals.
Top 3 – Shots In Qualifying (Per 90 Minutes)
Torres led the way in terms of shots. He had 19 shots throughout the campaign with an average of 3.52 shots every 90 minutes he played in. Torres will often drift into central areas of the pitch and find himself in optimum areas to shoot. He has the ability to curve the ball into the corners of the net. Therefore, he is more than willing to try and test the goalkeeper.
His average shot numbers for Barcelona are even more impressive. He has played 551 minutes across the league and Champions League this season. The majority of his appearances have come from the bench, but he hasn’t been afraid to shoot when making it onto the pitch. He averaged 3.95 shots per 90 minutes at club level this season.
Morata had 18 shots during qualifying. It is likely he will lead the Spanish attack at some stage in the tournament. Regardless as to whether Enrique chooses to experiment by not playing an out-and-out striker. He averaged 3.32 shots per 90 minutes in qualifying. He had the 2nd most shots and and the 2nd highest shots per 90 minute average.
He has averaged fewer shots in his matches for Atletico this season. Simeone’s side are averaging the 5th highest shots per game in La Liga. Morata ranks 3rd for average shots per 90 with 3.19. The Spaniard is behind only Correa and Felix.
Olmo was the only player to manage more than 10 shots for Spain during qualifying. He finished the campaign on 11; with an average of 3.14 shots per 90 minutes. Olmo has played out wide and in the centre for Spain. He has most recently featured out wide for the national team. There could be an opportunity for the Leipzig man to play as the false 9 if Spain opt for that system.
The midfielder has had to battle for his place under Marco Rose at Leipzig this season. Olmo has started 7 Bundesliga matches but didn’t start any of Leipzig’s matches in the Champions League. He is averaging 2.81 shots per 90 minutes for the German side this season.
Shots on Target
Spain are averaging just 3.8 shots on target in their last 10 matches. So I’d err on the side of caution when back their players to have shots on target. There could be some value in the selections when they face Costa Rica or Japan.
Top 3 – Shots On Target In Qualifying (Per 90 Minutes)
Alvaro Morata had 9 shots on target during qualifying; meaning 50% of his overall attempts were on target. If Alvaro is to lead the line, Spain will need him to make the most of any opportunities that come his way. Morata likes to play on the shoulder of the defence and is often caught offside. He should find himself in good positions to get clear chances in Qatar.
50% of Morata’s shots also find the target for his club. He has had 15 shots on target for the Spanish outfit this season. He is averaging 0.33 goals per shot on target. He’s one to look out for from a betting standpoint this winter. His shots on target should present much more value than shots due to his high conversion rate and position in the team.
Torres has the 2nd most shots on target for Spain with 8. He has 1 less than Morata, so his 42.1% rate of hitting the target is a fair bit lower. He averaged 1.48 shots on target per 90 minutes for Enrique’s side. Half of his shots on target resulted in a goal so the value could be in backing him to score.
The wide player ranks 5th in the Barcelona squad for shots overall this season. Only Lewandowski, Dembele, Fati and De Jong have had more. He is averaging 1.11 shots on target per 90 minutes. His teammate Fati has also been called up to the squad. He is a player to look out for with 1.92 shots on target for Barcelona this season.
Soler has started 2 of Spain’s last 4 international matches and looks set to compete for a starting berth in Qatar. Spain’s squad features very few standout names so it is difficult to predict who will start their first game against Costa Rica. Soler had 4 shots on target during qualifying, the same as Olmo, but his 1.18 shots on target per 90 minutes was superior.
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