Luis Enrique appeared inflamed in the final four of the League of Nations and left full before another demonstration of loyalty of the players towards his daring idea. The Spanish coach came to the first press conference in San Siro angered by the questioning caused by the summons of Gavi with only 17 years and just four games in the elite. It displeased him greatly that in the days before the competition the boy monopolized the spotlight of the press as a throwing weapon towards his figure. The noise of the start of the tournament was his for his public contempt for the media, which poisoned the atmosphere and fueled the frentism. Already in competition, Spain did not reach the summit with the conquest of the trophy, but it remained in the heights that it reached with the semifinals of the European Championship without giving up its daring style of play against Italy, the current continental champion, and France, the current world champion .
Offensive enthusiasm. If Luis Enrique was Luis Enrique, Spain was his Spain. An enthusiastic team of forward pressure, of the ball and of invading the opposite field without caring one iota if the defenders were exposed to Chiesa, Insigne, Mbappé or Benzema. The line of play followed in Milan was the same that gave them access to the final to four after beating Germany, Switzerland and Ukraine in the group. In the two games played at San Siro, Luis Enrique’s team rounded up general statistics of the tournament that describe the prominence that he holds in the game from his offensive style. With 17.3 shots per game, only Portugal (18.3) has registered a higher average. Spain has been the team with the highest average possession percentage (67.3%) and the one with the highest percentage of good passes (90.2% of its 5,779 total passes). Spain has generated 191 sequences of 10 or more passes, (23.9 per game) and has made 181 crosses to the area, the highest figures in this second edition of the Nations League.
A child in a mousetrap. Luis Enrique has emerged strengthened from a week that seemed complicated. The appointment was a mousetrap for the entity of the rivals and for the numerous and significant casualties (Morata, Gerard Moreno, Pedri, Marcos Llorente and Jordi Alba) with which the coach from Gijón had to face it. His list was once again a mixture of continuity and controversial and specific personal bets from which he has come out the winner. The biggest of his bets was Gavi, which was no mere filler display. The Barça inner rookie responded with character to his debut against Italy and in the final against France. The two meetings have left clear signs that the boy does not shrink from high competition. He has been more warrior than fine and may have lacked being more unbalanced in the last meters, but he has left interesting details in turns that speak of mastery of spaces and that he is not afraid to play with the ball because he lost it on a few occasions . After three years without participating with the national team, the trust placed in Marcos Alonso was also surprising. The Chelsea winger was the best Spanish player against Italy and was notable against France in attack and also closing the defense with some vital crosses. He’s banished the idea that he can’t play a four-defense. Jordi Alba and Gayá have reasons to feel threatened in the next calls.
Consolidated spine. As in the Eurocup, the coach gave up the verbena of changes from one game to another that he usually does in the qualifying phases. There is a basic and classic spine that goes from goal to forward. This League of Nations ratified Unai Simón and Azpilcueta and consolidated Laporte as head of defense while waiting to find a partner who would contribute forcefully. In this sense, Eric García’s performance against France was encouraging. For being vulnerable in his last performances with Barcelona, his line-up against the fearsome French trident was another bet by Luis Enrique that could be considered risky. However, he scored a good level in what for the coach has been the best defensive game under his direction due to the potential of the stellar French trident.
In the center of the field, Sergio Busquets ratified his leadership to temper the team and grease the circulation. The style favors him because the permanence in the opposite field under that pressure that prevents the team from splitting prevents him from having to run backwards, his great weak point.
In the attack, both Ferran and Oyarzabal have taken another blow on the table. The Manchester City striker played the final as a winger. Pain in the metatarsal of his right foot prevented him from lifting the ball in the centers, but his two goals against Italy raised him as a false nine. The realist, fitter than in the European Championship, produced two assists in the semifinal and put Spain ahead of France.
At stake the direct ticket to the World Cup
In the next selection window, Spain will play the direct ticket to the Qatar 2022 World Cup in the two qualifying matches that remain to be played against Greece, on November 11 in Athens, and against Sweden, three days later in the La Cartuja stadium in Seville. If they win both games, La Roja will qualify directly as first in the group.
The downside is that right now, after Sweden’s victories against Kosovo (3-0) and Greece against Georgia (0-2), both Greeks and Swedes are also dependent on themselves if they manage to win their remaining three games. Spain leads their group with 13 points from six games, followed by Sweden and Greece with one less and five games played. Both teams will meet this Tuesday in Solna in a match that will serve to clarify with more certainty the possibilities of Spain and the results that it may need in the face of the two momentous meetings of the next November match window.
The group is very tight and it is not ruled out that it could end in a tie on points between two teams. If this is the case, the first criterion to be applied is goal difference. Right now, Luis Enrique’s selection has a balance of +8, Sweden +7 and Greece +3. The second criterion is that of goals in favor and here Spain (13) also has an advantage, for the moment, over Swedes, +10, and Greeks, +7. The third point to break the equality are the goals in favor achieved in direct confrontations.
If he did not finish first in the group, Luis Enrique’s selection would be doomed to the new repechage format, made up of the 10 second-group teams plus two other exits from the Nations League ranking. To get to the World Cup, you have to overcome a single-match double elimination.
If Spain is not second either, having been a finalist in the second edition of the League of Nations, it will be guaranteed a place in the repechage. He would play the first playoff tie at home as he was seeded and if he won it, he would enter a draw to find out where he would play the second.
Spain has not missed a World Cup event since 1974. Since then, La Roja has participated in 11 World Cups in a row. Not being in Qatar would be a blow to the prestige of the Red and the federal coffers.
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