Spain profited from Martin Dubravka's goalkeeping howler and then turned on the style to thrash Slovakia 5-0 and book their place in the last 16 of Euro 2020.

Luis Enrique's men required a win in Wednesday's clash to guarantee a last-16 spot after drawing their first two games and were given a huge helping hand by Dubravka.

The Slovakia keeper saved an Alvaro Morata penalty early on – the fifth in a row Spain have missed – before comically flapping the ball into his own net with half an hour played.

That put Spain on their way to an emphatic win, the first time they have ever scored five times in a European Championship match, after Aymeric Laporte's first international goal and strikes from Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres before Juraj Kucka's own goal.

Spain were awarded a penalty inside the first 12 minutes after VAR intervened and adjudged Jakub Hromada fouled Koke when attempting to clear the ball.

Dubravka dived to his right and got two hands to the powerful attempt but, after chances went begging for Sarabia and Pedri, the keeper went from hero to zero.

Sarabia's long-range shot looped into the air after striking the crossbar and Dubravka, under a bit of pressure from Morata, inexplicably pushed the ball into his own net.

Dubravka could have done better for Spain's second goal, too, as Gerard Moreno beat the marauding keeper to a ball and crossed for Laporte to head into the top-right corner.

Spain were in complete control of the game when Sarabia swept home Jordi Alba's pass into the bottom-right corner with 56 minutes on the clock.

Slovakia still had a chance of advancing as one of the best third-placed sides, but substitute Torres flicked Sarabia's cross past Dubravka just 44 seconds after entering the pitch and Kucka knocked the ball into his own net soon after for Spain's fifth.

Luis Enrique accepted criticism ahead of Spain's decisive Group E clash with Slovakia, where another draw may not be enough.

Spain have drawn with Sweden and Poland so far at Euro 2020 and could follow Portugal in 2016 as the second ever team to be held in all three matches in a European Championship group stage.

Portugal went on to win that tournament, but Spain would not even be assured of third place in their pool and a place in the next round if results went against them elsewhere.

Worryingly for Luis Enrique, whose side missed a host of chances in their first two matches, a point apiece appears the most likely result.

Spain have drawn each of their past four major tournament matches – one shy of a record for European sides.

And a point would suit Slovakia, ensuring they advance for the third time in three major tournament appearances, after the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2016.

Spain coach Luis Enrique described himself as "preoccupied with us meriting better results but not getting them".

"We've created enough chances to win both games," he added, yet the under-fire boss recognised he could not complain about scrutiny.

"We coaches fully understand the fact that we live by results, and what not meeting your objectives means," Luis Enrique said.

"I'm hoping that by the end of Wednesday we're not only in the knockouts but as group winners. Right now I'll accept the criticism."
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Slovakia – Martin Dubravka

Goalkeeper Dubravka conceded the costly penalty when Slovakia lost their second match to Sweden, having earlier made a stunning save. That was one of just five stops so far at the tournament, though, while he has picked the ball out of his net twice. Spain may be wasteful, but that save rate may need to improve.

Spain – Gerard Moreno

Moreno will certainly hope to keen Dubravka busy – if he gets the opportunity. The forward missed a penalty against Poland (Spain's fifth miss from their past eight attempts at the Euros) and Luis Enrique hinted at potentially looking for a solution in attack. Moreno has been involved in more goals (nine) for Spain since his debut than any other player.
 

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Slovakia have won only one of their six meetings with Spain (D1 L4), a home victory in a European Championship qualifier back in October 2014 (2-1). This is their first encounter at a major tournament.
– Spain have won all three of their previous matches on home soil against Slovakia, scoring 11 goals and conceding two.
– Slovakia are unbeaten in their final group-stage game at both of their previous two major tournaments, winning 3-2 against Italy at the 2010 World Cup and drawing 0-0 with England at Euro 2016. They have progressed from the group stages at both previous tournaments.
– Including one as caretaker manager in 2018, Stefan Tarkovic has only lost two of his 11 matches in charge of Slovakia in all competitions (W4 D5 L2), with one of those defeats coming last time out against Sweden; Slovakia are yet to lose back-to-back games under him.
– Spain have drawn their last four major tournament matches (World Cup and Euros); among European nations, only Italy (five from 1980 to 1982) have ever had a longer run of successive such draws.

A host of European football's heavyweights were in action on another day of high drama at Euro 2020 on Saturday.

The stand-out result was Germany's thumping 4-2 win over holders Portugal at the Allianz Arena in Munich, which featured yet another landmark strike from Cristiano Ronaldo. 

In the same group, tournament favourites France were held to a surprise draw by Hungary, while, in Group E, Spain's stuttering start continued with a 1-1 draw against Poland.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at some of the best facts from across the day's action.

Portugal 2-4 Germany: Holders give Die Mannschaft a helping hand

Portugal made some unwanted history as they slipped to a resounding defeat against Germany at the Allianz Arena.

It had started so well for Fernando Santos' men, Ronaldo putting the holders ahead early on with a strike that took him level with Miroslav Klose as the European player to have scored the most combined goals (19) across the World Cup and European Championship. 

However, Portugal became the first European nation ever to concede two own goals – through Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro – in a single match at a major tournament to give Germany a half-time lead. 

Kai Havertz added a third to become Germany's youngest goalscorer in a European Championship game, aged 22 years and eight days, before Robin Gosens got in on the act. 

That meant Portugal, who pulled one back through Diogo Jota, became the first reigning champions in European Championship history to concede four goals in a single match in the competition.

Hungary 1-1 France: Fiola finds a way through stubborn defence

Few gave Hungary a chance of getting anything from their clash with the world champions, but Marco Rossi's side claimed a memorable point.

Attila Fiola opened the scoring shortly before half-time, ending a run of 527 minutes of play for France without shipping a goal.

Fiola has now scored two goals in his last four appearances for Hungary after failing to find the back of the net in his first 33 games for his country. 

Aged 31 years and 122 days, right-back Fiola is the oldest player to score against France in a European Championship match since Rui Jordao scored a brace against them for Portugal in 1984 (31y 319d).

However, France stretched their unbeaten run at major tournaments to nine matches when Antoine Griezmann levelled midway through the second half. 

The Barcelona forward has now scored 11 goals at major international tournaments, with only Michel Platini (14), Just Fontaine (13) and Thierry Henry (12) having scored more. 

France could have sealed victory had Kylian Mbappe shown more accuracy in front of goal. The Paris Saint-Germain forward attempted six shots – the most he has ever had in a single match for his country. 

Spain 1-1 Poland: La Roja's sluggish start continues

This draw meant Spain have failed to win either of their first two games in a European Championship tournament for the first time since 1996. 

It had started so well for them, however, with Alvaro Morata firing home from close range in the 25th minute. The on-loan Juventus striker has scored four of Spain's last five goals at European Championship finals – only Fernando Torres (five) has ever scored more goals in the competition for the nation.

Poland pulled level shortly after half-time, though, Robert Lewandowski becoming only the third player to score in three major tournaments for Poland, after Grzegorz Lato and Andrzej Szarmach.

Spain did have the opportunity to claim all three points, but Gerard Moreno struck the post from the penalty spot, meaning they have failed to score five of their last eight penalties (excluding shootouts) at the tournament.

There was also a landmark moment for Poland's Kacper Kozlowski (17 years and 246 days), who became the youngest ever player to make an appearance at the European Championship, overtaking Jude Bellingham's record (17y 349d) set for England six days ago.

Jordi Alba felt Spain deserved to beat Poland and remains confident they will qualify for the round of 16 after a 1-1 Euro 2020 draw at La Cartuja Stadium.

Alvaro Morata put La Roja in front from close range in the first half to end a run of four international games without a goal, silencing his critics after he was whistled off during the goalless draw with Sweden.

Spain were unable to secure their first win of the tournament, though, as Robert Lewandowski's second-half header kept Poland's qualification hopes alive.

Gerard Moreno struck the post with a penalty just after Lewandowski levelled and Morata wasted a great chance to spare his blushes when he put the rebound wide.

Spain are third heading into a must-win final Group E clash with Slovakia at the same venue on Wednesday and stand-in captain Alba says they will get the job done, despite an unconvincing start to the tournament.

"I believe we will turn this around, get some wins and we are doing a good job of things at the moment," said the Barcelona left-back.

"I think there is no doubting our intensity, I really think in terms of intensity and determination, you can't question that.

"Of course there are plenty of things to improve, that's the same for all teams but I think the coaching staff and players are doing a fantastic job. We are very ambitious, of course we are annoyed with the result but if we continue working hard I'm sure the results will come.

"On Wednesday, we have another final and we'll continue trying all we have to win and get through to the next round."

Alba said Spain were not surprised by Poland's performance, particularly with the lethal Lewandowski leading the line.

He added: "They are quality players, who play with a great deal of intensity. Lewandowski is the best striker in the world.

"We knew the potential they had. We had chances but they had two great chances and scored one goal. They are a good national team, but I thought we deserved to get the win."

It all seemed too perfect. Just moments after Robert Lewandowski had dragged Poland back into it at the other end, Alvaro Morata had the chance to once again prove his critics wrong.

But with the goal gaping, Morata was unable to convert, as Spain followed up a 0-0 stalemate with Sweden with a 1-1 draw against Poland, La Roja failing to win their first two group games of a European Championship since Euro 1996.

Yet it had all been going well for Morata, who opened the scoring in the 25th minute when he prodded in from Gerard Moreno's cross-shot, with VAR awarding the goal after the linesman's incorrect offside flag.

Morata had charged off to celebrate with Luis Enrique, who came to the defence of Spain's forward after Monday's frustrating draw with Sweden in their Group E opener. 

He wasted Spain's best chance when he failed to beat Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen one-on-one – his attempt one of three the Juventus forward, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid, sent off target in that match.

But it was a Saturday night which ultimately, for both Morata and his Spain team-mates, ended in frustration once more in Seville.

It could easily have been very different. Lewandowski, who had squandered Poland's best chance of the first half when he struck straight at Unai Simon from point-blank range after Karol Swiderski had hit the post, making no mistake with what was just his second, and final, touch in the box within the width of the goal.

Lewandowski's towering header from Kamil Jozwiak's cross brought up his third major tournament goal – he is just the third Polish player to net in three separate major competitions, after Grzegorz Lato and Andrzej Szarmach.

His goal keeps Poland's last-16 hopes alive in a group that remains wide open, though Spain should have been back ahead four minutes later.

Moreno was fouled by Jakub Moder, the offence spotted on a VAR check and referee Daniele Orsato pointing to the spot.

Unlike the composure he showed in the penalty shootout win over Manchester United in Villarreal's Europa League final triumph last month, Moreno missed the target, his low shot hitting the base of the left-hand upright.

 

Yet there was Morata, charging in to meet the rebound, the goal wide open in front of him. The net should have been rippling. Instead, Morata was looking at the sky in anguish, his shot having sliced off his in-step and well wide.

Two more big opportunities followed for Morata, who finished with a game-high four attempts – three of them on target – but on neither occasion could he beat the final Poland block.

Only Fernando Torres (five) has scored more Euro goals than Morata (four) for their country, but when he trudged off in the 87th minute it was his miss which lingered in the Andalusian air as Poland held on for a hard-earned draw, and Spain must beat Slovakia next week to ensure they are not a group-stage casualty. 

Jude Bellingham's record as the youngest player in European Championship history lasted just six days as Kacper Kozlowski made his major tournament bow for Poland.

Borussia Dortmund's Bellingham was introduced as a substitute in England's Euro 2020 opener against Croatia, aged 17 years and 349 days.

He became the competition's most junior star, taking the honour from Netherlands left-back Jetro Willems, who featured against Denmark at Euro 2012 at the age of 18 years and 71 days.

However, Bellingham's benchmark was quickly surpassed as Poland introduced Kozlowski in Saturday's Group E clash with Spain.

Midfielder Kozlowzki, who made his senior Pogon Szczecin debut at 15, was 17 years and 246 days old as he stepped off the bench to replace Mateusz Klich moments after Robert Lewandowski equalised in Seville. 

Having been introduced with 35 minutes to play, Kozlowski completed just one of two attempted passes.

However, the teenager did complete two of four dribbles, contest six duels and win two fouls while having only nine touches in a 1-1 draw.

Robert Lewandowski rescued Poland with a second-half equaliser and Gerard Moreno missed a penalty as Spain were held to a 1-1 Euro 2020 draw at La Cartuja Stadium.

Álvaro Morata silenced his critics by opening the scoring in the Group E encounter in Seville on Saturday after coming under fire for his performance in a stalemate against Sweden.

A defeat would have ended Poland's hopes of qualifying for the round of 16, but their record goalscorer and captain Lewandowski equalised with a header nine minutes into the second half.

Moreno failed to put Luis Enrique's side back in front from the spot just after Lewandowski's leveller, leaving Spain and Poland third and fourth in the group respectively with one game to play.

La Roja were in front 25 minutes in, Morata turning in Moreno's tame shot from close range with his right foot and belatedly running away to embrace coach Luis Enrique after the VAR ruled he was onside.

Moreno, starting at the expense of Ferran Torres, curled a free-kick narrowly wide before Karol Swiderski volleyed a glorious chance to equalise off target from point-blank range.

Swiderski rattled the post with a thunderous left-foot drive and Lewandowski was denied by Unai Simon following up, with Moreno firing into the side-netting late in an entertaining first half.

Poland were level nine minutes into the second half, the prolific Lewandowski rising above Aymeric Laporte to brilliantly head home Kamil Jozwiak's inviting cross.

Lewandowski had barely finished celebrating when referee Daniele Orsato pointed to the spot after taking another look at Jakub Moder's tackle on Morata.

Moreno was unable to restore Spain's advantage, striking the post, and Morata failed to spare his blushes when he put the rebound wide with the goal gaping.

History was made when Poland substitute Kacper Kozlowski became the youngest player to feature in a European Championship aged 17 and 246 days in a tense encounter which remained in the balance.

Wojciech Szczesny spread himself magnificently seven minutes from time to thwart Morata as Spain endured a frustrating evening and Poland stayed alive.

Marek Hamsik remains bullish about Slovakia's hopes of reaching the Euro 2020 knockout stage ahead of their final group game away to Spain.

Slovakia lost 1-0 to Sweden on Friday in St Petersburg, leaving them on three points from two games after defeating Poland 2-1 in their opening fixture.

Spain, who drew 0-0 with Sweden on matchday one, face on Poland in Seville on Saturday, before their final group clash with Slovakia, which will determine group placings.

"It's still open. We have to recover well," Slovakia star Hamsik said after the Sweden defeat.

"Spain are the group favourites and also contenders to win the tournament. It will be very challenging."

Sweden scored the game's only goal in the 77th minute from an Emil Forsberg penalty, won after a foul from goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

The goal prevented Slovakia from taking a strong position in Group E, with Sweden moving into top spot on four points, ahead of Hamsik's side on three.

"It's a pity," Hamsik added. "If they hadn't scored from a penalty we would probably have got a draw, and it would have been a 'golden' point.

"We were a little more passive in the second half and we paid dearly for it."

Forsberg's penalty ended a run of 365 minutes without a goal for Sweden at the European Championship, marking their first since their opening game at Euro 2016 against the Republic of Ireland.

Sweden head coach Janne Andersson was delighted with his side's position after two games and praised Real Sociedad star Alexander Isak – who impressed and played a part in winning the decisive penalty with his pass for Robin Quaison.

"It's really good to see him on the pitch, he's a huge talent," Andersson said. "He's a young player who's still got a lot of room for improvement. I think there is a lot more to come from him. He played really well today."

Luis Enrique confirmed under-fire Alvaro Morata will start Spain's Euro 2020 Group E clash against Poland on Saturday and insisted the striker is in a positive frame of mind.

Morata, whose loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid was extended for another season this week, has been heavily criticised in recent days for his display in Spain's 0-0 draw with Sweden on Monday.

The 28-year-old squandered Spain's best chance when he fired wide with just Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen to beat – one of three off-target attempts before he was substituted in the 66th minute.

Morata, however, has netted three of Spain's four most recent European Championship goals and is his country's leading scorer since the 2016 tournament, with 16 in 32 appearances.

Luis Enrique has no worries over his form as Spain look to avoid opening a Euros tournament with no wins from their opening two matches for the first time since 1996.

"I have said that he and 10 others will play [against Poland] as an encouragement for him to find the greatest of trusts, not because he did not perform," the Spain head coach told a media conference.

"Morata does many important things in attack and defence and I am not going to give anything away.

"There is only one player who has scored more goals than Morata with 41 caps, only David Villa. For example, our great forwards like Raul or [Fernando] Torres had less than him with 41 games."

Asked how Morata's emotional state is, Luis Enrique responded: "It's very good. There are times when you talk to a player when non-verbal language tells you more and already in the game I saw it was perfect.

"Every week with Alvaro we have taught him things that I want him to improve, but this week I have not had to teach him anything. I like his smile at work and his attitude. I convey my trust in Alvaro and in everyone."

Gerard Moreno came off the bench against Sweden, with many Spain fans calling for the Villarreal striker to replace him up front from the start against Poland.

Luis Enrique, however, was keen for the focus to move away from who plays in the central striking role, insisting his side's goal threat should come from every area of the pitch.

"It is very odd to think that only the number nine of the national team has to score," the coach added.

"Everyone has the responsibility to score a goal just as in defence we all defend. We have called up the four forwards who scored the most goals in their championships throughout the season and the four of them understand each other perfectly."

Saturday's match in Seville will be the first meeting between Spain and Poland at a major tournament.

Spain have won eight of their 10 matches against Poland (D1 L1), with the sole Polish victory taking place over 40 years ago (November 1980), in a friendly played in Barcelona (2-1).

Had Euro 2020 actually started on time last year, it's fair to say Pedri wouldn't have been in the Spain squad.

Although he impressed for his country at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, Pedri did not make a LaLiga appearance until September 2020.

Even earning a spot in Barca's first-team squad wasn't a given after he linked up with them from Las Palmas. It was initially expected he would either go on loan to a smaller LaLiga club, or feature for the B team.

But Pedri suitably impressed Ronald Koeman in pre-season and was fast-tracked into the senior side and he went on to play in all but one of their 38 LaLiga games.

The teenager then earned his first call-up to the Spain squad in March, and at that point few would have bet against him playing a leading role for the national team for the next 15 years.

Comparisons with Andres Iniesta have been prevalent ever since he broke into the Las Palmas team as a 16-year-old, such is his effortless ability on the ball, and for both Barca and Spain he is expected to carry out a similar function of bringing the team forward with the ball at his feet.

 

While Spain weren't exactly impressive in their 0-0 draw with Sweden, their inability to find the net despite dominating a worrying sign, Pedri's comfort in such a role on his major tournament debut was at least a reason for encouragement.

Aged 18 years, six months and 18 days, Pedri became Spain's youngest-ever player to feature at a European Championship, breaking a record that had stood for 41 years.

Though there was no hint of nervousness on his part, the midfielder getting on the ball with great regularity as Spain tried to plot a way through Sweden's packed defence.

The only non-defender to better his 113 touches was Koke (128), but in fairness the Atletico Madrid man often dropped into the right-back area to occupy the space vacated by Marcos Llorente, thus almost making him an orthodox full-back in possession.

But what was particularly notable about Pedri's display was his desire to keep hold of the ball.

 

His 60 carries – defined as movements of five metres or more in possession – wasn't bettered by any other player on matchday one.

Similarly, Frenkie de Jong (714m) is the only midfielder to better Pedri's 582.4m in terms of overall carry distance, while the youngster's 14 progressive carries of at least 10m is also second to just his Barca team-mate (15) among midfielders. The Netherlands star has played 180 minutes to his colleague's 90.

To add another layer of context to Pedri's work, Iniesta's 109 carries from four games at Euro 2016 was the seventh-most at the tournament.

Another outing like the Sweden game for Pedri against Poland on Saturday will see him surpass that figure posted by Iniesta. While the Barca great was 32 at the time, he was still very much among the world's best.

Firstly, this all highlights how much confidence Pedri has in himself, but it also shows the trust Luis Enrique and the rest of the squad have in the 18-year-old.

 

One area some may want to see an improvement in is his decisiveness in the final third, as he failed to make a single key pass against Sweden – though it's still perfectly arguable that Spain shouldn't have needed more creativity, given four players set up at least two shooting opportunities, while La Roja's 2.35 expected goals (xG) value shows they were let down by poor finishing rather than a lack of ingenuity.

Either way, Spain are likely to face similar tactics against Poland as they did versus Sweden, with an emphasis on Luis Enrique's side to pick a way through a rigid backline.

Pedri's maturity and positivity on the ball should at least ensure La Roja have the possessional nous to probe and test Poland's resolve at the back.

Robert Lewandowski will call upon struggles from the early part of his career as he aims to end a barren run on the biggest stages for Poland in Saturday's Euro 2020 match with Spain.

Poland went down 2-1 in their Group E opener against Slovakia, with Bayern Munich superstar Lewandowski unable to haul his side out of trouble after Grzegorz Krychowiak was sent off and Milan Skriniar hit a 69th-minute winner.

Lewandowski has scored with just two of his 35 shots for Poland at major tournaments, failing to find the net with his past 17 attempts in such games.

However, an overall career return of 66 goals in 120 caps – both national records – mean he is able to look at the bigger picture.

"I never really believed I could reach these figures," he told UEFA.com when discussing his overall numbers for Poland.

"I remember at the start of my Poland career when I wasn't scoring many goals – I had problems getting chances, controlling the ball.

"The feeling that if I don't get a chance, another one will come along and I will still score – well, I remember when it was hard to get that!"

Spain's goalless draw with Sweden was a game to forget for their own centre-forward, Alvaro Morata.

The Juventus striker missed a glorious chance before half-time and failed to work goalkeeper Robin Olsen with any of his three attempts.

"The big thing is not to think too much about the past. It's gone," he told UEFA.com, suggesting the opposite approach to Lewandowski.

"The Sweden game didn't go as I wanted and I have to accept that. The next day you just work harder to ensure that next time you'll put it away and win."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Spain – Alvaro Morata

There is already clamour for Villarreal's prolific Gerard Moreno to be granted an opportunity ahead of Morata after a comparatively lively cameo against Sweden, although the man in possession of the starting spot could crown a good week personally with a strong display, having extended his loan at Juve from Atletico Madrid for another year. The 28-year-old has scored three of Spain's past four Euros goals and is his country's leading scorer since the 2016 tournament, with 16 in 32 appearances.

Poland – Mateusz Klich

There will also be emphasis on the supply line to Lewandowski firing to great effect for Poland. Piotr Zielinski led the way with four key passes against Slovakia but Klich only created one chance. There is certainly room for improvement for the Leeds United man, whose four goals and five assists in last season's Premier League were records in both categories for a Polish player.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first meeting between Spain and Poland at a major tournament. Spain have won eight of their 10 matches against Poland, with the sole Polish victory taking place over 40 years ago. Since 2000, Spain have hosted their opponents twice and racked up an aggregate advantage of 9-0.
- After drawing against Sweden, Spain could open a Euros tournament with no wins from their opening two matches for the first time since 1996. They haven't failed to score in consecutive matches since the 2013 Confederations Cup.
- Poland have won just two of their 12 matches at the European Championship (D6 L4), failing to score more than one goal in any of those 12 encounters.
- Against Sweden, Spain completed 830 passes and recorded a possession figure of 85.1 per cent - both were tournament highs since Opta have full passing data for the Euros.
- Manchester City's Ferran Torres (seven) was one of only three players born in or after the year 2000 to score at least seven goals in the Premier League in 2020-21.

Spain captain Sergio Busquets admitted it was "almost impossible" to stay optimistic when he tested positive for COVID-19 just as Euro 2020 was about to begin.

On Friday, Busquets made an emotional return to the squad following a frustrating stretch in isolation, hugging coach Luis Enrique and team-mates as he arrived back in camp.

The Barcelona midfielder was removed from Spain's training base near Madrid and whisked away by ambulance on June 7, yet now he has been given the all-clear and is poised to contribute as Spain attempt to book a last-16 spot.

Busquets said he was "very happy, on a high" to learn he was healthy to rejoin the group, but recalled the sorry moment when he was told he had the virus.

"The doctor called me, he told me, and at that moment you have a lot of feelings, such as that you don't believe it, concern about what might happen, whether it could be a false positive, many things," Busquets said.

"The moment I got into an ambulance and turned for home, I went through everything. You try to be positive but in those moments it is almost impossible and you think about when you will be well, if you will be able to return, if you will get back on time.

"There are many unanswered questions that go through your head in a bad moment."

Busquets is likely to play his first match of the tournament when Spain face Slovakia next Wednesday in their final Group E game.

Speaking in a video released on the team's official Twitter page, Busquets said: "I am very grateful, not only to team-mates, but also to the president, the staff, the coach, the entire group that is in the bubble."

The 32-year-old said he had kept in constant contact with those in the Spain camp, adding they made it clear "they were waiting for me with open arms".

"I have missed you so much, you don't know how much," he told his team-mates.

"Thank you very much for all the messages worrying about me, making me feel like I was here even though I was at home. I am very proud of all of you, of the first game, of everything you are doing here and that is the way, so there is a lot left and I'm sure everything will go well."

In Busquets' absence, Spain drew 0-0 with Sweden in their opening Euro 2020 Group E game, a match in which they had 85 per cent of the possession but only five shots on target.

They play their second group game against Poland in Seville on Saturday, with Busquets expected to be a spectator after missing almost two weeks of training.

While Busquets will bolster the midfield whenever he returns to action, Spain have pressing issues in attack following the Sweden game.

They have now failed to score in two of their past three matches – having also drawn a blank in the pre-tournament friendly against Portugal earlier this month – and that is as many scoreless performances as they had in their previous 51 internationals.

Spain have not experienced successive games without finding the back of the net since 2013 at the Confederations Cup, and should they again miss out against Poland it would mean the Slovakia game becomes hugely important.

Spain captain Sergio Busquets admitted it was "almost impossible" to stay optimistic when he tested positive for COVID-19 just as Euro 2020 was about to begin.

On Friday, Busquets made an emotional return to the squad following a frustrating stretch in isolation, hugging coach Luis Enrique and team-mates as he arrived back in camp.

The Barcelona midfielder was removed from Spain's training base near Madrid and whisked away by ambulance on June 7, yet now he has been given the all-clear and is poised to contribute as Spain attempt to book a last-16 spot.

Busquets said he was "very happy, on a high" to learn he was healthy to rejoin the group, but recalled the sorry moment when he was told he had the virus.

"The doctor called me, he told me, and at that moment you have a lot of feelings, such as that you don't believe it, concern about what might happen, whether it could be a false positive, many things," Busquets said.

"The moment I got into an ambulance and turned for home, I went through everything. You try to be positive but in those moments it is almost impossible and you think about when you will be well, if you will be able to return, if you will get back on time.

"There are many unanswered questions that go through your head in a bad moment."

Busquets is likely to play his first match of the tournament when Spain face Slovakia next Wednesday in their final Group E game.

Speaking in a video released on the team's official Twitter page, Busquets said: "I am very grateful, not only to team-mates, but also to the president, the staff, the coach, the entire group that is in the bubble."

The 32-year-old said he had kept in constant contact with those in the Spain camp, adding they made it clear "they were waiting for me with open arms".

"I have missed you so much, you don't know how much," he told his team-mates.

"Thank you very much for all the messages worrying about me, making me feel like I was here even though I was at home. I am very proud of all of you, of the first game, of everything you are doing here and that is the way, so there is a lot left and I'm sure everything will go well."

In Busquets' absence, Spain drew 0-0 with Sweden in their opening Euro 2020 Group E game, a match in which they had 85 per cent of the possession but only five shots on target.

They play their second group game against Poland in Seville on Saturday, with Busquets expected to be a spectator after missing almost two weeks of training.

While Busquets will bolster the midfield whenever he returns to action, Spain have pressing issues in attack following the Sweden game.

They have now failed to score in two of their past three matches – having also drawn a blank in the pre-tournament friendly against Portugal earlier this month – and that is as many scoreless performances as they had in their previous 51 internationals.

Spain have not experienced successive games without finding the back of the net since 2013 at the Confederations Cup, and should they again miss out against Poland it would mean the Slovakia game becomes hugely important.

Sergio Busquets is back in the Spain squad after returning a negative coronavirus test.

The Barcelona midfielder had been isolating since testing positive for the virus on June 7, which prompted concern of a possible outbreak in the camp prior to the start of Euro 2020.

Coach Luis Enrique summoned players to train in a parallel bubble in case of further infections, but only Diego Llorente returned what was later suspected to be a false positive test.

On Friday, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said Busquets would be returning to the squad after testing negative for COVID-19 and travel with his team-mates for Saturday's match with Poland in Seville.

In Busquets' absence, Spain drew 0-0 with Sweden in their opening Euro 2020 Group E game, a match in which they had 85 per cent of the possession but only five shots on target.

They have won eight out of 10 previous matches against Poland, with their only defeat coming in a friendly in Barcelona in November 1980.

La Roja are looking to avoid consecutive scoreless performances for the first time since the 2013 Confederations Cup.

 

Aymeric Laporte has insisted he is paying little attention to the "political agenda" driving criticism of his surprise selection in the Spain squad for Euro 2020.

Born in Agen in the south of France, the defender represented Les Bleus' youth teams from U17s level all the way through to the U21s.

He was also twice called up by the senior national side but injury and a failure to convince manager Didier Deschamps of his worth meant he had not made an appearance by the age of 27.

However, an eight-year stint with Athletic Bilbao meant Laporte, whose great grandparents hailed from the Basque region, remained eligible for Spain, and Luis Enrique took advantage by including him in the squad for this summer's European Championship.

The Manchester City man performed impressively in his first competitive appearance for his new nation - a 0-0 draw with Sweden - winning all three of his aerial duels and completing more passes (115) than any other player on the pitch.

But the move continues to prove controversial in some quarters, with one Spanish journalist recently asking Laporte if he "[felt] Spanish enough to be able to defend the badge, the flag, the nation, the anthem".

Still, the player remains unperturbed by the debate surrounding his involvement and told AFP: "There is a bit of everything, like anywhere, there are a lot of people who are in favour but there are many who are also against.

"There is a political agenda behind all that and I can see that it's not easy for everyone to accept. I also understand those people. Everything is fine, for now.

"There will be worse times to come and also the opposite. I just try to make the most of the good moments and push the bad ones aside because otherwise I know it'll be a rollercoaster."

Laporte's inclusion was considered even more contentious given it came off the back of Spain and Real Madrid icon Sergio Ramos being excluded from the squad.

But he insisted the two decisions were not directly linked, and lavished praise upon his fellow centre-back.

"This is what the press wanted to blame me for a bit," he added. "The manager said he was injured so it has nothing to do with me. I'm also not the only centre-back in the squad so I don't think it's my fault.

"There's no extra pressure. I'm here to do my job, to fight for Spain in my own way.

"He is an icon in the world of football. I have watched him a lot since I was young. He is the benchmark.

"I love his character, not his aggressive side, the red cards and all that, but his resilience to make a mistake and still come back stronger, not to hide behind his reputation. He is always ready to stand up and be counted."

Spain have failed to score in two of their last three outings, having taken 51 international fixtures to produce two goalless games prior to that.

But Laporte is calm about a disappointing start to this summer's tournament, which he hopes to put right against Poland on Saturday.

"The results will say everything," he continued. "A lot of people think they know football but then the complete opposite to what they predict happens.

"We just try to do our job and I would even say so much the better if they think that we're not ready because it takes the pressure off. It motivates us even more."

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