Rising stars raising hopes for new-look Spain
La Roja have rediscovered some of the traits that made them world champions at South Africa 2010
Despite ongoing debate in the media, Luis Enrique has steered the team through stormy waters
Two Barcelona youngsters will spearhead Spain’s bid for a second world title
The squad has newfound optimism, and the sun is shining once more. Luis Enrique has Spain back on track as they attempt to recreate the glory years of 2008 to 2012 after two FIFA World Cup cycles that offered up more than their fair share of frustration, controversy, and disappointment.
La Roja hopes to have a great showing once more at Qatar 2022 after encouraging showings at the three continental competitions they have competed in since being eliminated in the last 16 at Russia 2018. The guys in red are determined to win the Trophy again and have some very strong reasons for setting their goals so high, despite the fact that many people are fighting the impulse to include them among the top contenders.
Their qualification campaign got off to a less than favorable start. Luis Enrique's team struggled to make an impression on their group opponents, drawing with Greece in their first game, beating Georgia with a dramatic late goal, and then losing away to Sweden. When the top two teams met in Seville on the final matchday, Spain scored four minutes from time to seal a tight victory and a direct trip to Qatar after the Swedes' unexpected loss to Georgia opened the door for them.
Ferran Torres led the way with four goals throughout the difficult campaign, while Luis Enrique worked to mold and improve his young team.
Clevpicks.com will introduce you the Spanish national football team...
Spain's Group E fixtures
Spain-Costa Rica (19:00 local time, Al Thumama Stadium)
Spain-Germany (22:00 locales, Al Bayt Stadium)
Japan-Spain (22:00 local time, Khalifa International Stadium)
Luis Enrique's approach and tactics
Luis Enrique, weary of the debate and controversy surrounding his club, attempted to "put things in context" by tweeting a table comparing their results to those of nine other European teams across four competitions.
It demonstrated that Spain was the only country to consistently place in the top four. Coach Luis Enrique is a perfectionist with an acute eye for detail. He utilizes results to refute criticism of his term, during which he has improved the fortunes of the national team.
A veteran of three world finals as a player, he is about to face his first as a coach. After impressing in the dugout at Roma and Celta Vigo, he enjoyed a successful stay at Barcelona and was then given the task of getting the national team back on course.
He has made the absolute most of the resources at his disposal by not being afraid to make tough choices, like completely benching Sergio Ramos in favor of young guns Pedri and Gavi, and standing by them in the face of a deluge of negative media coverage. The former midfielder has developed a strong team in the process, one that is adventurous with the ball and difficult to penetrate at the back and that places a strong emphasis on the group as opposed to the individual. Now all he needs is a striker who can reliably take advantage of the opportunities they produce.
Key player: Pedri
Sergio Busquets, a seasoned player, may be the team's captain, but Pedri, who turns 20 on November 25, is the team's lifeblood and has already made a name for himself as one of the best players in the world.
His meteoric rise has given his club, Barcelona, hope at a time when they have been finding it difficult to adjust to Lionel Messi's departure. Beginning his career as a star for Las Palmas, Pedri rapidly won over the Camp Nou supporters and is now revered throughout the world.
The youngster is living proof that if you are good enough, you are old enough. The epitome of the modern-day playmaker, he is a creative genius with exceptional vision and a sublime touch that allows him to play the right pass at the right time, perfectly weighted and directed with either foot.
A dynamic presence on the pitch and agile and versatile with it, he has starred on several occasions for Spain already, with his performances at UEFA EURO 2020 earning rave reviews, not least from his coach, who said, “Did you see how Pedri performed at the age of 18 in a tournament as big as that? Not even Andres Iniesta could do that. We’ve got to get on board with Pedri.”
With Pedri as their driving force, Spain are in for quite a journey.
One to watch: Gavi
The selection of Gavi is one of the bravest decisions Luis Enrique has taken so far, and one he has defended vociferously.
“With Gavi I get the feeling he’s a massive unknown for Spanish football, even to those closest to him. He doesn’t just run with the ball – he’s really dangerous on it. He’s an out and out central midfielder and he can score goals too. You’ll see. He’s 18 and he’s unique. He’s an erupting volcano and it’s hard not to fall in love with him. He plays the game like he’s in the school playground. He’s the future and the present of the national team.”
Gavi is a defensive player of the top caliber as well. He is among the top players in the world thanks to his movement, ball-winning abilities, and intuition. And there is much more to the young wizard's game, as Luis Enrique has been quick to emphasize. He completes every task quickly and precisely.
He has the speed, ball-carrying ability, and talent to slither past rival players and break through defensive lines. He is the kind of player who ties a team together. The Barcelona midfielder appears to have no upper bound, and Qatar 2022 will give him the ideal platform to prove his mettle to the globe.
Spain's World Cup history
Over the past 12 years, Spain has climbed the mountains and sunk to the depths. A team with little rage but plenty of football won the nation's first world championship in South Africa 2010 after many years of disappointment. This great team, which had previously won one European championship and would successfully defend it in 2012, overcame a shock loss to Switzerland in their opening game to take home the trophy for a country that is obsessed with football.
The future of Spain was promising, but then the clouds quickly began to gather. A crushing loss against a Netherlands team looking to exact revenge for their loss in the Final four years prior marked the start of their doomed championship defense at Brazil 2014. The end of a golden age also marked the end of the road for some of the players who contributed to its success.
On the eve of Spain's opening match at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Russia, Julen Lopetegui, who had been appointed to manage the transition and boost confidence, was fired from his position. Fernando Hierro was swiftly chosen as interim manager amidst the chaos, but he was unable to stop La Roja from losing in the round of 16 to the host country in a penalty shootout. Spain has regained their composure after making an impression in the UEFA Nations League and EURO 2020.
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