This will not be Álvaro Morata's competitive Spain debut but all the indications from training are that this will be the Juventus striker's first competitive start tonight against Ukraine. By definition, given the qualification situation, the 22-year-old is inheriting the kind of responsibility which, for over a decade, has been handed to either Fernando Torres or David Villa. Significantly, given the choice, he has eschewed the No9 shirt traditionally chosen by centre forwards and opted for the available No7 jersey − legendary for being worn first by Raúl Gonzalez, whose all-time top scorer status was then taken by Spain's next No7, Villa.
It's a beautiful spring day in southern Spain, likely to reach 23 degrees in the early afternoon and stay around 18 or 19 for the evening kick-off as Spain meet Ukraine. However, most of the city's inhabitants, and the rest of Spain, would swap the blue skies and glowing sunshine for wind, rain and lightning if it would guarantee three points. The UEFA European Championship holders are in a tight fight for the top of this group, one point behind leaders Slovakia - who, in theory, have the simpler game tonight against Luxembourg - and tied with Ukraine. For just that reason, the game has been selected as one for the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán - La Roja's stronghold. They have no 'National Stadium' here and the 24 times Spain have played a match at Sevilla FC's home it has resulted in 19 wins and five draws.
|2002/04||Final tournament - Group stage||13||8||3||2|
|Full UEFA competition record|
|UEFA European Football Championship||145||92||27||26|
|FIFA World Cup||166||101||36||29|