Asensio takes Real Madrid fans' minds off the 'Cristiano crisis'
Spain sail through dangerous opener against Macedonia
What a start to the European Under-21 Championship for Spain! An opening match we feared as a potential banana skin ended up in a thumping victory. At the same time, though, Macedonia showed that it had been a far from absurd notion to paint them in such a light. They play very good stuff, and have a sterling generation of youngsters. Eight of them were in the senior side that visited Spain in World Cup qualifying in November. They weren't involved in the recent return in Skopje, because the preference was not to risk them and to keep them back for this tournament. They headed to Poland with high hopes. They've suffered a major reverse in the opener, because La Rojita displayed immense cutting edge, but actually played pretty well.
Macedonians made to pay by ruthless Spain attack
While taking a lot of risks, it must be said. They went forward in numbers, pushing their full-backs up and populating the central areas. They're good on the ball and, in David Babunski, have a fine puller of the strings, but by pressing so many into attack left themselves exposed on the counter, which Spain pounced on ruthlessly. Macedonia bossed possession; Spain bossed the scoreboard. The tone of the clash was in evidence early on: the Macedonians had dominated the first ten minutes and given Spain a tough opening period, when a quickfire break was rounded off by a spectacular Saúl Ñíguez overhead kick. From then on, we saw the same dynamic: Macedonia took care of the ball nicely; Spain hit them with clinical attacks.