Morata gets second chance to lead Spain’s attack

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Back in the national side for the first time in a year, Álvaro Morata says it is only a matter of time before Spain works out its scoring struggles.

Spain has scored twice in its last four games, a run which included a shock 1-0 loss at Ukraine last month that ended the team’s run of 13 competitive games without a loss.

It plays at Switzerland on Saturday needing a victory to ensure it keeps the lead of its Nations League group before a final group game against Germany next week.

“We are a young team. The national team has undergone a generational change in recent years,” Morata said on Friday. “We are playing well. We should be confident. We have players who can score lots of goals, as they have shown with their clubs. It is just a question of time … getting the ball in the goal.”

In search of goals, coach Luis Enrique recalled Morata to Spain for more punch in attack. Morata impressed the coach after he found the net six times in seven matches for Juventus following a transfer from Atlético Madrid in the summer.

Morata provided a pass for midfielder Sergio Canales to score as Spain drew with the Netherlands 1-1 in a friendly on Wednesday, but the team still lacked bite.

Dropping points in Basel would endanger its chances of advancing to the final four.

Spain leads Group 4 of the Nations League, one point ahead of Ukraine and Germany, which it hosts on Tuesday at an empty stadium in Seville. The group winner advances to the four-team final. The Swiss are five points behind Spain.

Spain is missing Barcelona standout Ansu Fati, who will be out for four months after tearing the internal meniscus in his left knee. Fati had many Spaniards hoping they had found the team’s new scoring threat after he become Spain’s all-time youngest scorer at age 17 in its last convincing win in September, a 4-0 rout of Ukraine.

Defender Sergio Ramos has led Spain in scoring with two since international play resumed this autumn.

Spain’s troubles up front go back several years. It has been looking for a reliable scorer ever since David Villa and Fernando Torres spearheaded its greatest generation of players that won the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships.

Morata failed to keep the striker position under Vicente del Bosque after he started in Spain’s disappointing 2016 European Championship campaign. Julen Lopetegui did not call him up for the 2018 World Cup, preferring Diego Costa. Now, in his prime at age 28, Morata has a second chance to prove his worth to Luis Enrique before the postponed European Championship is finally played next year.

“For me is it fundamental to be here,” Morata said after practicing with his team at St. Jacob Park. “If I keep working like I have until now and we get positive results and have good performances, I believe I will stay on the team. That is what I work for every day.”

Spain’s attack will also count on Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno, Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, Wolverhampton’s Adama Traore, and Manchester City’s Ferran Torres.

Switzerland is undefeated at home in 17 competitive matches but has yet to win in six matches this year. Spain edged Switzerland 1-0 in their first match last month.

Luis Enrique said the Swiss were better than their recent record.

“If I look at their results, I see they are in last place. But they could still win the group if they win their last two matches,” Luis Enrique said. “This is the most complete team that we have faced in the Nations League.”

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

Other Sports News | Soccer News | Sports

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up