Alvaro Morata is quite the polarising player. Some see him as a bright centre forward prospect while others see him as nothing more than decent. His quoted asking price is apparently €50m, but against the Czech Republic he showed nothing that would convince his detractors that he was worth that fee. However, his performance against Turkey put a cheeky smile back on supporters’ faces.
The lazy among us would compare his performances at the Euros so far as night and day but is that really the case? Let’s take a look. At this juncture of his career, Morata seems to be a player that deals solely in goals. Contrary to reports he is a well rounded player capable of holding up the ball and linking play to create chances for his teammates and he is a goal scorer. Vicente Del Bosque seems to have realised this. In the past we have seen Del Bosque use forwards such as David Villa and Fernando Torres up front or players such as Cesc Fabregas and David Silva in a false 9 role. In short, he prefers players who are capable of combining a variety of abilities leading his teams. In Morata, Del Bosque believed he had another such player but the young striker is still to make the step up to the level required by his coach. As such, there has been a slight tweak to better facilitate Morata.
Despite Del Bosque hooking him after 61 minutes against the Czechs, Morata retained his starting spot against Turkey. Some were surprised by this move but with Aritz Aduriz being the next in line to lead the line, it was no surprise Morata was given a second chance. In any case, a noticeable alteration was made to the system. Against Turkey, we didn’t see a Spanish team who looked to Morata for involvement up front like they did against the Czechs. It was quite clear Morata was there to finish the chances his talented teammates would inevitably provide. ‘We play, you score’ seemed to be the mantra of Andres Iniesta and co.
The position and passing network details Spain’s plan. Morata played the game as a traditional poacher. He stayed up top, in or around the penalty area, and waited for the chances to be placed on a platter for him. Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets prodded and probed their opponents until they found an opening they could exploit. We can go into even greater detail to illustrate the differences in Morata’s games vs the Czechs and the Turks.
Against a weaker opponent in Turkey with an additional 30 minutes on the field there are negligible increases in Morata’s touches and total passes attempted and there is in fact a reduction in his completed passes and attempted dribbles. The only significant increase is found in the section Del Bosque will no doubt be most concerned with, goals. Morata opened and closed the scoring for Spain against Turkey and that is all that will matter. So to the question of who will score the goals to propel Spain to a potential third hold of the European Championship, the answer is Morata.
Spain just need to ensure that’s all they ask of him.