Aymeric Laporte is set to represent Spain at Euro 2020 after switching his allegiance from France.

Manchester City centre-back Laporte has represented Les Bleus 51 times in total across the under-17 and under-21 age groups.

However, the 26-year-old was never handed his senior debut, despite being called up three times by Didier Deschamps.

Laporte came through the youth ranks at Athletic Bilbao and made 222 appearances for the Basque club until joining City in January 2018.

He was granted Spanish citizenship earlier this week and FIFA has confirmed he can play for Spain with "immediate effect".

A report by Marca earlier this week claimed Spain boss Luis Enrique lobbied the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to look into the possibility of Laporte changing allegiance, so it feels safe to assume he will be a key part of the former Barcelona head coach's plans for Euro 2020.

But how does Laporte compare to Spain's other options at centre-back?

Regular game time

Despite scoring the winner in last month's EFL Cup final against Tottenham and collecting a third Premier League title in four seasons at City, it has been a mixed campaign for Laporte on a personal level.

He went into 2020-21 as Pep Guardiola's go-to centre-back but the arrival of Ruben Dias and John Stones' resurgence means he is no longer first choice at the Etihad Stadium.

Nevertheless, the packed schedule undertaken across all competitions by the Champions League finalists means he has still played 27 games, starting 24 and completing 2,250 minutes.

Of centre-backs used by Luis Enrique this season, that places Laporte third behind Villarreal's Pau Torres (41 games, 3,675 minutes) and Athletic's Inigo Martinez (32 games, 2,914).

Sergio Ramos, who is now widely expected to have a new centre-back partner for La Roja, has been restricted to 21 games and 1,790 minutes by injuries this season, while Diego Llorente (14 games, 1,160) was compromised by a serious groin injury after joining Leeds United.

One would-be international colleague Laporte knows very well is club team-mate Eric Garcia. The 20-year-old is set to leave City after declining to sign a new contract last term.

While running down the clock to his anticipated move to Barcelona, Garcia has become a marginal figure in Manchester, despite Guardiola continuing to profess his admiration of his talents.

His 10 appearances and eight starts amount to 693 minutes, not significantly more than 514 minutes across seven caps for Spain this season.

Indeed, Luis Enrique started Garcia in all three of the March internationals, suggesting his lack of club action is not overly hindering his case.

Keeping it tight in Manchester

City's defensive improvements have been central to their success this season and, although no longer an automatic selection, Laporte has more than played his part.

The 14 goals conceded with him on the field are just four more than Guardiola's side have let in amid Garcia's sporadic outings. Only Torres (13) has amassed more than his 12 clean sheets.

Laporte ranks well across all of the key defensive metrics this season, with 18 tackles placing him level with Ramos and Torres.

Martinez has made 24, while Marcelo Bielsa's famously intense style of play might be largely responsible for Llorente going into 31 tackles during his relatively smaller workload.

Laporte's duel success rate of 63.7 per cent is the best of the bunch, with Martinez contesting and winning the most overall (263 and 149), while Torres is out in front in terms of recoveries (232).

In the air and on the ground

Standing at 6ft 3ins, Laporte will provide the kind of imposing presence Spain have perhaps lacked.

He has contested 100 and won 69 aerials, similar numbers to the 103 and 62 returned by Torres, who is of similar stature. Martinez's 136 contested and 82 won again show the Athletic man getting through plenty of work.

Perhaps Laporte's most celebrated quality is his capacity to start moves from the back via his superb left foot.

Centre-backs completing a high proportion of their passes is not unusual, given the generally simple nature of them, but Laporte generally plays in a notably progressive manner.

He has made 244 passes into the final third this season, more than any of the Spain centre-backs mentioned (Torres 240, Martinez 235), a trait that is sure to be welcomed by the attacking talents in Luis Enrique's squad.

Ronald Koeman believes there is something personal behind the decision to hand him a touchline ban.

Barcelona confirmed this week they are to appeal to Spain's Administrative Court of Sport (TAD) after head coach Koeman's ban for Saturday's potential LaLiga title decider with Atletico Madrid was upheld by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Koeman was hit with a two-match suspension after being shown a red card for comments made to the fourth official during his side's shock 2-1 home loss to Granada last Thursday.

Barcelona had hoped to have Koeman back for the massive game at Camp Nou, but it was announced on Wednesday that their appeal was not successful, prompting the club to try again with TAD.

"Yes, I think it was personal," said Koeman.

"Because saying 'what a character' in Spanish or 'what a person' in English is not insulting. 

"It is not a reason to sanction. So yes, there is something else behind it.

"Better not talk about the referees because, in general, the RFEF puts one of the best referees in for these games. 

"It is hoped that he [Mateu Lahoz] gets his decisions right, but you don't have to think about the referees. You have to think about yourself and plan.

"Hopefully the decisions of the VAR are fair for us and for Atletico."

Barca go into the match at Camp Nou two points behind leaders Atletico, with Real Madrid also trailing Diego Simeone's men by that margin in a thrilling title race.

Ahead of the crunch clash, Barca confirmed Ansu Fati's injury comeback has hit another setback, as the Spain forward had to undergo another knee operation, his fourth procedure.

Fati suffered a serious meniscus injury in November, having scored five goals across 10 appearances for Barca across all competitions.

The 18-year-old was initially forecast to return in March, but his long spell on the sidelines and problems with his injury had even led some to question whether Fati would be able to have a long career in the game.

"Poor kid," said Koeman. "I have not yet spoken with Ansu. I did speak with him before his trip to Porto [for the operation].

"It takes a long time and there are things that have not gone well with his recovery - I don't want to go into that anymore, but five or six months is a long time.

"Now the most important thing is that he is going to recover, he is going to get well and that he will be with us. Too bad it is for next season.

"It has been important that we missed a player like him, but the most important thing is that he recovers well to continue playing."

 

Koeman knows the stakes are high in the title race and Barcelona have a good record against their opponents, losing just one of their 21 previous LaLiga games against Atletico, winning 14.

"I have not changed my mind; if we win every game we will be champions," he said of the four remaining league fixtures.

"I don't think it [this result] is decisive because there will be three games left, but of course it is important. It is not decisive.

"They are both very good teams and we are fighting with two more teams as well [Real Madrid and Sevilla]. 

"We have to be good with the ball because Atletico closes well and defends well. We have to be good with the ball to create opportunities and be effective."

Barca are looking to avoid losing home and away in the league against Atleti for the first time since 2005-06, Simeone's men having won 1-0 in the last meeting in November.

But aside from that rare blip against Granada, Koeman's side have the momentum. They have collected a league-high 49 points in 2021 (W16 D1 L2), eight more than Atletico in this period.

Lionel Messi has scored 20 goals (excluding penalties) in LaLiga in 2021, vastly outperforming an expected goals figure of 11.

Opta data shows he has the biggest positive differential (nine) for any player in the top five European leagues since the start of year.

Ansu Fati's injury comeback has hit another setback, with Barcelona confirming the Spain forward has had to undergo another knee operation.

Fati suffered a serious meniscus injury in November, having scored five goals across 10 appearances for Barca across all competitions.

He had initially been forecast to return in March, though the 18-year-old hinted in a social media post at the end of that month he may be facing a longer spell on the sidelines.

Having failed to return to training throughout April, Fati has now gone under the knife yet again, this time for a revision arthroscopy in his left knee.

Barca confirmed in a statement on the club's official website that the operation had been undertaken by Dr. Jose Carlos Noronha in Porto.

The Blaugrana have offered no update on a timescale for Fati's return, though it will certainly rule the youngster out of Euro 2020, albeit his chances of making the rearranged tournament already seemed extremely remote.

Zinedine Zidane insists "no one has the blame" for Sergio Ramos returning from Spain duty with a calf injury that has "hurt" Real Madrid for a key stretch of the season.

Ramos returned from a knee issue ahead of the international break and scored for Madrid as they knocked Atalanta out of the Champions League.

However, he then played just 50 minutes across two appearances for Spain in World Cup qualifying and complained of a calf problem after a short cameo at home to Kosovo.

Madrid have not confirmed the anticipated length of Ramos' lay-off, but a return in time to face Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals and Barcelona in LaLiga appears unlikely.

Los Blancos host Liverpool on April 6, with a second leg eight days later sandwiching a critical home Clasico.

Given Ramos has appeared just 20 times for Madrid in all competitions this season, questions might be asked of his involvement for Spain.

But Zidane told a news conference on Friday: "No one has the blame here - not Spain, not Real Madrid. This is just football.

"Unfortunately, these things happen; it's happened before, not just to us but to a lot of other teams as well.

"It's true that, this part of football, we don't like it, of course, but these things happen. We have to accept this, but no one is to blame here.

"What we want for Sergio is that he recovers as quickly as possible. We know the player and captain he is. We know that he always wants to be available and playing.

"This has hurt us a little bit and we hope he recovers quickly."

Ramos' absence for the two legs against Liverpool would appear particularly costly as Madrid have lost seven of the 10 Champions League games he has missed since the end of the 2017-18, the season in which they were last crowned European champions and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo departed.

The centre-back has made 14 European appearances in that time and contributed to 10 wins, losing only once, while Los Blancos concede only 0.9 goals per game with him in the side - down from 1.9 without him.

But Zidane was not looking as far ahead as an intriguing last-eight tie, as Madrid first face Eibar on Saturday, playing before Atletico Madrid and Barca and able to cut the gap at the top to three points.

"You talk about Liverpool and Barcelona - we have a game tomorrow to play," Zidane said.

"We want Sergio back, we want him to be with us at all times, but right now we just focus on tomorrow's game.

"This is going to mark the path for the rest of the season. We just focus on tomorrow and that's it. Tomorrow at 4.15 [CET], we have a game and we have to all be ready, all of us."

Ramos is not Madrid's only injury absentee, either, with Eden Hazard prevented from going away with Belgium and Toni Kroos returning ealry from Germany duty.

Kroos has been a key man this season, playing 35 games and providing nine assists from 83 chances created, and he is "doing better", Zidane said.

The coach added Madrid are "not going to be silly" with the midfielder but he trained on Friday.

Hazard, on the other hand, has repeatedly suffered with fitness issues, restricted to only nine starts in 2020-21 and having a meagre four goal involvements.

"Once again, we don't have a plan with Eden," Zidane said. "It's a day-to-day thing, like everything.

"We're not going to force anything because the most important thing is that he's well, that he's recovered. For us, it's bit by bit.

"I'm not going to tell you we'll re-evaluate in a week, a few days, nothing. If it's in a few days, that's good for us; 10 days, okay. We're just going to take it day by day.

"He is with the team now and that's what we want. When he plays, we'll see."

Eric Garcia showed exactly why Manchester City wanted to keep him in the Premier League as Spain took their first steps towards the World Cup, according to Luis Enrique.

The 20-year-old defender looks certain to leave City for Barcelona at the end of the season, having turned down the chance of a new contract with the Premier League leaders.

Garcia has not started a Premier League match since October, making just two fleeting substitute appearances in the competition since then, with Pep Guardiola mainly trusting John Stones and Ruben Dias.

He played three consecutive World Cup qualifying games for Spain during the international break, however, lining up against Greece, Georgia and Kosovo.

"The situation with Eric is not normal," Spain coach Luis Enrique said. "We took some risks by calling a player who has played very little this season, but we trust him so much and his level is so high that, after three months without playing, he is able to come here and play three high-level games.

"He is a very intelligent player, you would never believe how young he is given how he behaves on the pitch. He gives us a lot of confidence in defence, he is very skilled, so that is why Man City have been trying to re-sign his contract for a long while, although he made a different decision."

Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique added: "We are so happy to have a player like Eric. He leads our defence and is very communicative on the pitch and smart.

"He knows what to do every time and also is aware of the aspects he has to improve. Even though he does not play at his club, he can come here and do it well. He has just proved his [high] level the week he has been here."

Spain went top of World Cup Qualifying Group B after goals from Dani Olmo, Ferran Torres and Gerard Moreno earned Luis Enrique's side a 3-1 win over Kosovo.

Dani Olmo, who netted a last-minute winner to spare Spain's blushes in a 2-1 victory over Georgia, opened the scoring against Kosovo with a sumptuous finish.

Ferran Torres followed up quickly with a confidently taken second, allowing Spain to breathe a sigh of relief as a campaign that got off to a stuttering start began to gather pace.

A blunder from goalkeeper Unai Simon allowed Kosovo's Besar Halimi to pull one back, but Moreno headed home to seal victory and give Spain a one-point lead over Sweden, who have a game in hand in Group B.

 

Barcelona youngster Ansu Fati seems to have hinted he could be facing up to a year on the sidelines due to his current knee injury.

Fati suffered a serious knee injury in November, having played 10 games in all competitions, scoring five goals. 

The Spain winger had surgery to address the problem with his meniscus and was reportedly set for four months out, but his return has been pushed back until at least April, with no firm timescale on his comeback.

It is not the first serious injury the 18-year-old has sustained, however, with Fati revealing he previously spent close to a year out of action due to fracturing his tibia and fibia – a lay-off he believes has prepared him for the challenge which he is going through.

"A few years ago I had a serious injury, a fractured tibia and fibula, and I couldn't play for almost a year." Fati wrote in a post on his official Instagram account.

"There were many days of suffering and pain, but also a lot of learning. It helped me to appreciate the little details.

"With my family and all the professionals who helped me at that time, I promised myself to keep going and work harder than ever to get back to doing what I love the most.

"Unfortunately, now I have to live through a similar situation, which I will face with the same mentality.

"I want to thank all those people who follow me and support me on a daily basis. Football is my life and no matter how many obstacles there are, I will always have the illusion of continuing to fight for my dreams."

Fati's comments cast further doubt over his chances of returning to action prior to the end of the season, which would also derail any opportunity of making Luis Enrique's Spain squad for the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, which begins in June.

Reports last week suggested Fati was looking to exhaust other options other than going under the knife again which, according to Spanish publication AS, was the advice of knee specialist Bertrand Cottet, who the player recently visited in Lyon.

Spain coach Luis Enrique has defended his rotation policy following their slow start to 2022 World Cup qualifying.

La Roja needed a 92nd-minute Dani Olmo strike to edge Georgia 2-1 following their opening 1-1 home draw with Greece, with Luis Enrique rotating his starting XI for both matches.

The situation led to criticism of Luis Enrique, who pointed out only months ago Spain defeated Germany 6-0 in the Nations League.

Spain take on Kosovo on Wednesday and Luis Enrique insisted his approach would not change.

"Why don't we have a first-choice starting XI? Well, that's right. I have to make my decisions," Enrique said.

"What I am not going to do as the national team manager is – and if people don't agree I don't care – to make my decision according to what Pepe, Manolo or Lucas want.

"I'm a professional coach with an extensive CV that proves what I achieved as a football manager, so that is why the Spanish FA hired me.

"I won't change my way of doing things. I have a 24-player squad right now and any of them could play tomorrow, which is much better than having just 11 key players."

The former Barcelona coach added that there were benefits to giving his players more experience in the starting line-up with a view to this year's European Championship.

"In that case, if three players suddenly get injured, then I would have to use some players at the Euros who would be lacking in confidence," he said.

"I don't believe in doing that. I had a successful career, so why should I change now? I respect every opinion but I am the manager and my experience proves that.

"And in the Euros that is how I will do it, it's the same for the World Cup when my contract will expire."

The former Spain international added he respected Kosovo and their style ahead of Wednesday's game in Seville.

"I have watched them in some games where they press high up the field intensely, a daring and brave side that try to play the ball from the back," Luis Enrique said.

"I like their team, given that they take risks. They will make it hard for us in some stages of the game. They have good attacking players with a good striker and then [Valon] Berisha and some other good creative midfielders."

Fabian Ruiz insisted he is "very happy" at Napoli amid links with Atletico Madrid and LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Napoli and Spain star Fabian has repeatedly been tipped to return to his homeland, where Atletico, Madrid and Barca are reportedly interested.

Fabian – contracted to Serie A side Napoli until 2023 – has starred in Italy since arriving from Real Betis in 2018.

Amid speculation over his future, Fabian, who is on international duty with Spain for their World Cup qualifiers, told reporters: "I'm very happy at Napoli and I have two more years contract left there.

"Now I'm just focused on the next game on Wednesday as it will be very tough."

Fabian, 24, added: "About LaLiga, without a doubt it is one of the most competitive leagues in the world as there are many great players and teams.

"However, every player just tries to do the best for his own future. Sometimes you have to move abroad but it does not mean those leagues are better. The players are just interested in their happiness and work, so they make their own decisions.

"I can't say which one is better but I'm sure LaLiga is one of the three best leagues in the world."

Fabian has scored once and supplied one assist for Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli in Serie A this season.

 

Luis Enrique joked he was on the verge of a heart attack after Spain required a last-gasp Dani Olmo strike to see off Georgia 2-1 in Sunday's World Cup 2022 qualifier.

Spain played out a 1-1 draw with Greece in their opening Group B fixture on Thursday and were on the verge of being held by Georgia at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena.

But substitute Olmo fired in a 25-yard winner in the 92nd minute to spare Spain's blushes after Ferran Torres had earlier cancelled out Khvicha Kvaratskhelia's first-half opener.

Luis Enrique celebrated the goal wildly and admitted his side are bereft of confidence, having won just one of their last five games prior to the late victory in Tbilisi.

"I was on the verge of a heart attack," he told TVE. "We have been losing confidence and you could see that in the first half. 

"We conceded from a slight defensive error and knew it would be complicated from that point on. Our intention was to play more passes inside and create more opportunities."

Asked if Spain deserved their victory against a side ranked 83 places below them in the FIFA rankings, Luis Enrique said: "Yes. And if people think it isn't then I do not care.

"If you score in the 90-something minute it is because you have worked hard for the goal. Each win will lift our morale but we cannot afford to relax now."

Luis Enrique made seven changes from the Greece draw, including a first senior cap for Pedro Porro and a full debut for Bryan Gil.

Spain managed just two shots on target in their last match and only slightly improved in that regard against Georgia with three on-target attempts.

And with a home match against Kosovo to come on Wednesday in the last of this month's triple-header of fixtures, Luis Enrique is expecting more teams to try to frustrate his side.

"Unfortunately this is the way it is going to be against Kosovo as well," he said. "We made a lot of changes today but were very lucid. 

"There are no small rivals, especially when they all lock themselves behind the ball. If you are not on top of your game then you will suffer."

Ramos was taken off at half-time against Greece and was an unused substitute on Sunday, but Luis Enrique reiterated that his skipper is not carrying an injury.

"He is fine," the former Barcelona boss said. "I know that whatever I decide with Ramos it is going to generate controversy and debate. I am prepared for any situation."

Torres' equaliser 11 minutes into the second half was his fourth in three appearances for Spain and paved the way for half-time substitute Olmo's long-range winner.

RB Leipzig midfielder Olmo credited Georgia for pushing his side all the way and insisted getting all three points was ultimately all that mattered.

"First, I must congratulate the whole team for getting the win," he said. "We needed this victory, so I'm very happy that it ended like this.

"It is difficult to explain how I'm feeling. It's unique. It is incredible and the support of the team when scoring and the emotion has been spectacular

"You have to speak well of Georgia - they played very well. They did us some damage on the counter-attack but we knew how to react.

"I think that everyone tries to play to their strengths. We are very clear about they way we play. Sometimes you can't win, like against Greece, but today we have been able to get all three points."

Spain have now earned four points from added-time goals in their 10 competitive matches since Luis Enrique returned, having previously battled back to earn Nations League draws against Germany and Switzerland.

La Roja are also the first team ever to score in 37 successive World Cup qualifying matches, breaking West Germany's record set between 1934 and 1985.

Dani Olmo spared Spain's blushes with a 92nd-minute strike to earn his side a 2-1 comeback win over Georgia in Sunday's World Cup 2022 qualifier in Tbilisi.

Spain were held 1-1 by Greece in their Group B opener on Thursday and were heading for another shock result at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia gave Georgia the lead just before the interval, but Ferran Torres equalised 11 minutes into the second period and half-time substitute Olmo scored a long-range goal in added time.

Georgia ended the game with 10 men after Levan Shengelia was sent off for a challenge on Pedri as Spain avoided an embarrassing result on their travels.

Luis Enrique is confident Spain can find their creative spark when they face Georgia on Sunday after being frustrated by Greece in their opening World Cup qualifying clash.

Spain had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their first Group B encounter in Granada on Thursday after they could only muster two shots on target.

Alvaro Morata opened the scoring, but Anastasios Bakasetas' penalty 11 minutes into the second half was enough for Greece to earn a point.

Luis Enrique is backing his side to put that disappointment behind them when they take on Georgia in Tbilisi.

The Spain head coach said in a press conference on Saturday: "You depend on the quality of the players and we have a lot of that, for which I am calm.

"There are no bottles of pills for inspiration, if you find them in a pharmacy, buy me two bottles!"

The former Barcelona boss added: "The team has to attack with freshness without problems. We must make a difference in attack and defence."

Luis Enrique is not sure what approach Georgia will take after he felt they were unfortunate to start their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Sweden.

He said: "I don't know what Georgia will do against us, but against Sweden they generated a lot of scoring chances. I think Georgia deserved to draw that game.

"They played Sweden face to face and I hope for a similar Georgia. It won't be easy."

Luis Enrique once again allayed injury concerns over Sergio Ramos after he was withdrawn at half-time against Greece and said Gerard Moreno's fitness will be monitored in training.

Spain head coach Luis Enrique clarified that Sergio Ramos' half-time substitution had nothing to do with injury, instead managing his minutes ahead of two more 2022 World Cup qualifiers as he allayed concerns.

Real Madrid and Spain captain Ramos was replaced at the interval by Inigo Martinez, who gave away the penalty in Spain's surprise 1-1 draw with Greece in Granada on Thursday.

Ramos missed two months of club football with a knee injury, the 34-year-old star defender returning earlier this month for games against Elche and Atalanta before missing Madrid's LaLiga clash with Celta Vigo on Saturday due to a shin issue.

​"Sergio Ramos is perfectly fine," Luis Enrique said post-game. "He didn’t play the last game with his club due to a blow.

"We had already decided in advance that he would only play the first half and he is perfectly fine.

"He is available for the following games."

Ramos, who has a record 179 international caps, is in the mix for Spain's upcoming qualifiers away to Georgia on Sunday and Kosovo on Wednesday.

Alvaro Morata told his Spain team-mates to expect more negative tactics in their next World Cup qualifier against Georgia on Sunday. 

Spain were held to a 1-1 draw by Greece in the country's opening Group B fixture in Granada on Thursday as their opponents set up defensively straight from kick-off.

Morata put Spain ahead with a stylish volley, but visitors Greece equalised with their only shot of the game courtesy of a Anastasios Bakasetas penalty.

Spain monopolised possession with 79.9 per cent and made 920 passes with a successful accuracy of 92.4 per cent.

However, Greece's defence stood firm as they won 42 duels to Spain's 33 with Georgios Tzavellas making the most clearances in the game and Konstantinos Tsimikas the most tackles on either side with five apiece.

Morata predicted Spain's players will face more teams who will try to stifle their play, starting with Georgia at the weekend.

"We'll have lots more games with rivals who try to do this to us," Morata said in a post-match media conference.

"We knew how Greece were going to try and play us this evening. Any international side which knows how to defend can make things difficult for you.

"In fact, Georgia play in a similar style. We need to get used to having complicated moments and trying to get the best from them.

"We have to draw the positives from this match and keep on working hard."

Spain head coach Luis Enrique echoed Morata's sentiments but insisted despite the setback their commitment to play attacking football remains.

"I don't like the result at all, nor have we been inspired," he said.

"I liked the rhythm, but once we pinned Greece back we didn't flow and fashion the chances that would have enabled us to take a clear lead.

"I did like our attitude and the tempo of play that the team tried to produce throughout. Whenever we got near the Greek penalty area, however, we lacked sharpness and efficiency.

"Sunday will be a similar game, with an opponent who uses the same weapons. We'll continue to insist on attacking in the same way.

"This result doesn't change anything for the next two games. [Attacking] is the most difficult phase in football, it depends on the situations you generate. 

"I don't think this result will influence the following ones."

Alvaro Morata told his Spain team-mates to expect more negative tactics in their next World Cup qualifier against Georgia on Sunday. 

Spain were held to a 1-1 draw by Greece in the country's opening Group B fixture in Granada on Thursday as their opponents set up defensively straight from kick-off.

Morata put Spain ahead with a stylish volley, but visitors Greece equalised with their only shot of the game courtesy of a Anastasios Bakasetas penalty.

Spain monopolised possession with 79.9 per cent and made 920 passes with a successful accuracy of 92.4 per cent.

However, Greece's defence stood firm as they won 42 duels to Spain's 33 with Georgios Tzavellas making the most clearances in the game and Konstantinos Tsimikas the most tackles on either side with five apiece.

Morata predicted Spain's players will face more teams who will try to stifle their play, starting with Georgia at the weekend.

"We'll have lots more games with rivals who try to do this to us," Morata said in a post-match media conference.

"We knew how Greece were going to try and play us this evening. Any international side which knows how to defend can make things difficult for you.

"In fact, Georgia play in a similar style. We need to get used to having complicated moments and trying to get the best from them.

"We have to draw the positives from this match and keep on working hard."

Spain head coach Luis Enrique echoed Morata's sentiments but insisted despite the setback their commitment to play attacking football remains.

"I don't like the result at all, nor have we been inspired," he said.

"I liked the rhythm, but once we pinned Greece back we didn't flow and fashion the chances that would have enabled us to take a clear lead.

"I did like our attitude and the tempo of play that the team tried to produce throughout. Whenever we got near the Greek penalty area, however, we lacked sharpness and efficiency.

"Sunday will be a similar game, with an opponent who uses the same weapons. We'll continue to insist on attacking in the same way.

"This result doesn't change anything for the next two games. [Attacking] is the most difficult phase in football, it depends on the situations you generate. 

"I don't think this result will influence the following ones."

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