Spain will look to end the month’s UEFA Nations League fixtures on a high note when they welcome Czech Republic to Malaga for Sunday’s League A Group 2 encounter.
La Roja scraped a 1-0 win over Switzerland during their midweek battle, while the visitors’ most recent Iberian trip saw them suffer a 2-0 loss to Portugal.
Third time was the charm for Spain in the Nations League, as Luis Enrique’s side bounced back from one-pointers against the Czechs and Portugal to quell a hapless Switzerland side on Thursday evening.
Reverting to arguably their strongest XI amid the unforgiving fixture schedule, La Roja struck through Pablo Sarabia in the 13th minute, and that was enough to get them over the line against the section’s basement side and force Portugal to look over their shoulder.
With three games gone, the 2020-21 Nations League runners-up occupy second spot in the League A Group 2 rankings and are within touching distance of Portugal, who are the next visitors to Geneva, so all may come down to their heavyweight showdown on matchday six three months from now.
Enrique has now overseen a seven-game unbeaten streak in all tournaments since Spain went down to France in last year’s showpiece event, and Spain have also found the back of the net in each of their last 17 games since being held by Sweden at Euro 2020 – not half bad given the lack of celebrated strikers of old.
A resolute start to life with the big boys counted for nought during the Czech Republic’s showdown with Portugal, as the Selecao comfortably dispatched their opponents by two goals to nil at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
Bernardo Silva set up Joao Cancelo and Goncalo Guedes in the opening 45 minutes to kill off any hopes of a positive Czech Republic result early doors, but Jaroslav Silhavy’s side can still be satisfied with their month’s work during their inaugural League A campaign.
Staying in League A would be a minor consolation for the Czech Republic following their World Cup Qualifying playoff heartache, and Silhavy’s side currently occupy third spot in the rankings and cannot be usurped by Switzerland no matter what transpires here.
The world’s 33rd-ranked nation are still searching for their first away clean sheet in the Nations League but ought to take the positives from their first meeting with Spain earlier this month, which ended with La Roja rescuing a point right at the death through Inigo Martinez in a 2-2 draw.
However, that four-goal thriller stretched the visitors’ winless run against Spain to six matches in all tournaments, and La Roja boast a perfect record of three wins from three versus the Czech Republic on familiar territory.
Spain Nations League form:
Spain form (all competitions):
Czech Republic Nations League form:
Czech Republic form (all competitions):
We say: Spain 1-0 Czech Republic
Even if Enrique does opt to put out a second-string XI for the final matchday of this month, La Roja’s options in reserve are certainly formidable, and Silhavy has generally been loath to change his setup over the course of June.
Such a tactic may not reap its rewards as his players battle fatigue, and given Spain’s hot streak in front of goal, we are backing Enrique’s side to dig deep and post a second consecutive victory.