Spain beat Ukraine with a change in the role of the central midfielders. In the previous match between Spain and Ukraine, the central midfielders linked up with the wingers and the defensive midfielder, creating superiorities. In the semifinal, Ukraine started defending in a 4-4-2 but when they saw that the central midfielders were placed higher and narrower, moving between the lines, behind the midfielders, they had to modify the shape.
In addition, Sancet and Baena exchanged positions many times during the match, with Sancet playing on the left and Baena on the right. Santi Denia’s goal was to try to isolate Abel Ruiz with a center back and attack space looking for long balls.
This made Ukraine go to a 5-4-1, trying to reduce the distance between the defensive line players and that there was always a free player to jump on the midfielder that received between the lines. Despite this, Spain was too comfortable in possession as in this play in which Abel Ruiz receives a long pass to score the first goal.
With the midfielders higher, another of the possibilities that Spain had was to accumulate players in the edge of the box. Baena attacking the gap between centre backs and Sancet waiting to receive a pass and finish with a shot from outside.
We see it in the play of the second goal, in this case Abel Ruiz’s movement off the ball dropping to link-up while Baena runs into the space that will be freed by the center-back that jumps on Abel Ruiz. This forces the defensive line to correct their position, leaving alone Sancet to finish.
And exactly the same in the fourth goal in which Aimar Oroz scores with this shot. Great tactics by Santi Denia to qualify Spain for the final of the Euro Under 21.