The examination of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal last Friday at the Metropolitano (0-0) was a good X-ray with a view to the European Championship of what Luis Enrique’s Spain is. The doorman offered doubts; the line-up transgressed classicism with two left-handed centrals; high pressure was consolidated as the tool that the group has best internalized; and the lack of a goal penalized the moments of greatest offensive productivity. Matches of this type under the direction of the Asturian coach has signed a few this Spain challenged by the challenge of showing that it can fight again for a great tournament. With the record since the 2014 World Cup in hand, reaching the semi-finals would be a high note; and even falling in the quarterfinals, before a great power and showing his face, it would be worth a pass if the group stage and the eighths are decent.
A week before the premiere against Sweden, in La Cartuja, next Monday, the selection diagnosis is supported by one of the most diabolical uncertainties that football reserves for young teams that aim good manners: they can win, draw or lose with almost anyone . The tactical deployment of the team exudes the ardor and commitment of the youth that outlines the list of 24 players, with an average of 26 years, amplified by the absence of Sergio Ramos. All dedicated to the cause of the selector to dominate the games drowning the rival in the opposite field. Of all the imprints that Luis Enrique seeks, this is the one that he has most effectively impregnated in his internationals. And it is usually an unequivocal sign that the squad has faith in the coach.
Without the violinists who won everything, it is with the ball that La Roja must refine. And it is already known that this, no matter how much movements and circuits are mechanized, lives a lot, especially in attack, of associations that begin as intuitive and end up being very recognizable because the players who establish them enjoy continuity. Luis Enrique also faces that dogma when, with the obstacle of not having at least half a dozen players from the same club, the line-ups and airs vary so much that all those called up can be starters. Part of his decision to recruit 24 players instead of 26, as allowed by UEFA, has to do with that conviction that continues to turn his eleven into a chimera even for his players in the days leading up to the games.
If in the Eurocup he maintains the bet of refreshing the team with three or four changes between game and game to be able to sustain the intensity requirement that his script requires and it gives him results, Luis Enrique and his coaching staff will open a path in management and direction until now unknown in national team tournaments. There is no news without uncertainty.
Under these exciting and disturbing parameters, Spain will have to face a very marked competition due to the effects of covid-19 in the design of an exhausting calendar. It will be a strange Eurocup because of the 11 countries that organize it or because of the absence of Ramos as the cacique of the locker room. The captaincy assumed by Busquets in silence from the respect that the dressing room professes him, reflected in the speech of the coach and the players. They all respond that leadership must be collective. Nothing to do with the times of the Casillas, Xavi, Piqué, Puyol and Ramos himself, in which no one doubted who the leaders of the booth were.
There will be no game in which Spain should not clear up an unknown. How to see how he responds if he has to measure himself against the physical and footballing fullness of France; the current champion Portugal without being a friendly; Belgium that equaled the generation of 86 reaching the semifinals of the World Cup or the pedigree of Germany, England, the Netherlands and Italy, which are also haunted by the same uncertainty as the Luis Enrique team. They can win, draw or lose to almost anyone.
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