Fluid and free-scoring – A closer look at Luis Enrique’s Spain

England face Spain on Monday night hoping to exact revenge on the hosts for the Nations League defeat in September.

Gareth Southgate’s side went down 2-1 at Wembley but have since recovered with a point in Croatia to get their campaign up and running.

Here, Football Paradise examines their next opponents ahead of the tie in Seville.


Barcelona Training and Press Conference – Celtic Park
Luis Enrique took over after Spain flopped at the 2018 World Cup (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Luis Enrique was appointed in July after Spain’s terrible World Cup.

Spain sacked Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup in Russia after it was announced that he would be taking over at Real Madrid at the conclusion of the tournament.

Fernando Hierro took interim charge, but Spain crashed out at the last-16 stage.

Former Barcelona boss Enrique won two LaLiga titles, three Copa del Reys and a Champions League at the Nou Camp between 2014 and 2017 and has made an encouraging start in his first international job.


England v Spain – UEFA Nations League – League A – Group Four – Wembley Stadium
Rodrigo, right, celebrates scoring against England, one of eight goals Spain have managed in two games under Luis Enrique (Mike Egerton/PA)

Spain’s possession game was the envy of international football as midfield maestros Xavi and Andres Iniesta helped them to two European titles and a World Cup triumph between 2008 and 2014.

But Spain have been more direct and aggressive under Enrique, with the emphasis on creativity rather than simply possession for possession’s sake.

Enrique wants players to be fluid, to move the ball quickly and free runners into space.


Spain v Russia – FIFA World Cup 2018 – Round of 16 – Luzhniki Stadium
Spain have moved on quickly from their shock World Cup exit at the last-16 stage (Aaron Chown/PA)

The misery of a World Cup which saw Spain win only of their four games before going out to Russia has been quickly forgotten.

Enrique’s two competitive games in charge have seen Spain set the new Nations League alight.

Spain beat England 2-1 at Wembley with Saul Niguez and Rodrigo turning around an early deficit, while World Cup finalists Croatia were hammered 6-0 in Elche, before easily disposing of Wales 4-1 in a friendly on Thursday.

Players to watch

There has been something of a changing of the Spanish guard in recent times, with Iniesta and David Silva having stepped away from international football.

Isco, Dani Carvajal, Sergi Roberto, Diego Costa and Jordi Alba will all be missing for one reason or another, but that has allowed players such as Paco Alcacer and Rodrigo to stake their claim for a regular place.

But quality exists right through the squad – from goalkeeper David de Gea, to skipper Sergio Ramos at the back, Sergio Busquets and Thiago Alcantara in midfield and Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata up front.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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