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Morata deserves more recognition for Euro performance

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“Morata giveth, Morata taketh away.” But he giveth a whole lot more than people give him credit for.

FBL-EURO-2020-2021-MATCH49-ITA-ESP Photo by ANDY RAIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Tuesday was a wild ride for Juventus fans, as the semifinal between Spain and Italy featured some massive moments for Juventini — from the goals to the misses and everything in between. But once again, it was the disappointing final touch from Alvaro Morata that got most of the attention as his Euro 2020 run came to an end.

No one was more disappointed than Morata was after his poor penalty was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, opening the door for Jorginho to win the game for the Azzurri. The man who got Spain into extra time and gave the team a chance to win could not finish off one of his best performances of the season.

And it was a moment that Juventus fans are all too familiar with.

We can see flashes of brilliance from Morata only to see him butcher a chance that seems to be better than the ones he actually puts away. He’s done it for years at the club level and there was really no reason to be surprised by how he played in this tournament.

Of course, in the spotlight of the Euros, the misses are going to grab the spotlight more and more and people are going to put you down because of it. And many people believed the missed penalty seemed to be the fitting final nail in the coffin of Morata’s tournament.

However, while some of the misses were poor and deserve to be pointed out, it is a disservice to Morata to not talk about what was an overall successful tournament for the striker. At the end of the day, he was still the best forward in the tournament for Spain and easily a top 5 player in the squad — maybe only behind Aymeric Laporte and Pedri.

Morata finished his tournament close to the top of tournament leaders among several attacking stats. Prior to the second semifinal being played, Morata was first with 18 shots taken and second with eight shots on target. Joke all you want about him being offside a lot, but he finds himself in great position to get shots off more often than not.

With his three goals, Morata finished tied for second in the tournament in non-penalty goals. And although his actual goals disappointingly fell short of his expected goals, he led all players with 3.74 xG in open play. The next closest player is currently Harry Kane, all the way back at 2.94.

It wasn’t just about being in the right spot at the right time for Morata, either. He played a large role in Spain’s (elongated) build-up, playing more passes than any other player with three or more goals at an 80 percent success rate.

Even though Spain was rarely without the ball, Morata still got to show off his high work rate and played a role in tracking back several times. He was only one of four players in the tournament to record multiple goals and at least 20 ball recoveries.

It was clear Morata had an overall positive impact on Spain’s tournament run, and even though he missed before the deciding penalty, it would be a better argument to say they would have been out much sooner without his performances.

After the loss to Italy, I found myself in a weird mood of wanting to celebrate for so many of the players I love but I was also just gutted for Morata because I knew he would be the one to take a lot of the heat once again. It probably made it worse when you dive into football twitter and realize many people who don’t know much about the game or who have never seen Morata play were trashing him for the poor penalty.

Some of his misses were absolutely brutal and they should be pointed out especially when it’s a player of his caliber, but those moments should not define his tournament as a whole. And sadly, I also have to say those moments in no way should call for threats against Morata and his family.

There was some redeeming posts on Twitter that talked about feeling sorry for Morata and it gave me a little more faith in humanity, but one that stuck with me more than any other was this:

Juventus fans know this one more than pretty much anyone else. He’s had great moments for club and country, but he has also had some blatant bloopers. But either way, if you want to talk about how Morata taketh away, you better recognize how much he giveth too because it’s clear one outweighs the other and it’s not even close.