Luis Enrique returns Spain to the top: cancels tiki-taka, strives for verticality and calls only those who agree with philosophy – Elementary Watson – Blogs

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Luis Enrique, who led the Spanish national team in July 2018, gave the result just three years later. He went through a terrible family tragedy, ruthless pressure in the press, betrayal by a colleague and skepticism from the fans to show us all what we have forgotten: he knows how to build great teams. We remember what new things we learned about him and his team in 2021 and what to expect from Red Fury in 2022.

Enrique conquered Spain – the team exists to embody his ideas

After winning Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, Spain suffered three consecutive defeats, did not leave the group in the 2014 World Cup and was eliminated in the first phase of the play-offs of Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. The big generation of the “dozens” – Pique, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Casillas and Villa – ended their careers in the national team and the Spaniards did not have new masters of the same level. The experts understood: Luis Enrique needed to assemble a new team of players, most of whom would not be part of any fantasy team.

Taking on a new position, the former Barça coach showed first of all that he would be the key in every way: the dominance that reigned in the national team for several years was over. There is a funny video on the net about how Sergio Ramos arrived at the Spanish training camp in September 2018 for the first match under the leadership of Luis Enrique. Easy communication ends as soon as the head coach enters the conversation. After pushing each other, the two alphabets exchange happily, trying to emphasize their superiority by putting their hands wide on their belts. Louis did not break under the authority of the captain – the player understood the non-verbal signal of the coach.

The players who were less receptive to Enrique’s approaches were not called up to the team. So, for example, Iago Aspas, Jesούςs Navas and Nacho proved to be out of the national team. Only six Spaniards for Euro 2020 were in the application for the 2018 World Cup. Before the opening match of the Euro with Sweden, Enrique did not hesitate to admit that the 24 names in the application are not the best players in the country, but those who fit his model: “As a coach, first of all, I was looking for players who would believe in my ideas and have the necessary qualifications to implement them. Those who matched better ended up in the Euro “.

Spain became its coach’s team. “We have to listen to the master, be careful and do what he asks,” Koke succinctly described the atmosphere.

On the way to the Euro he lost his daughter, betrayed and left Ramos out of action

In 2021, Enrique had already verbally informed Ramos that he would not go to the Euro due to lack of practice due to injury. A storm of criticism fell on the coach: all seven defenders in the Spanish application, together, had played fewer games for the national team than Sergio until then.

The situation was aggravated by the fact that not a single Real Madrid player remained in the national team. The press called Enrique an “anti-Madridist”. And Eduardo Inda, editor-in-chief of Marca, the most popular sports publication in Spain, even accused the coach of immorality: “Luis Enrique insulted the most important team in history. “Not having a single Real Madrid player in our national team is disgusting in terms of ethics and sports.”

Lewis was not interested in press criticism. “I understand football better than you,” Enrique told reporters in karate, “so I do not read your articles and I do not care what you write.”

Ramos extinguished the gossip, noting the inevitable justice of the coach’s decision: “It is a pity that I can not help the team, but you have to be honest: in my case, it is better to rest, recover and come back, as I always do. He made. “I will play for Spain at home.” Enrique has shown that he is not afraid to make unpopular decisions and knows how to find a common language with leaders.

Less polite was the story of Robert Moreno, Enrique’s assistant for many years. In 2019, when Luis left the national team to be with his family and his incurable daughter, Moreno first became an actor and then the coach of the Red Four. Under him, Spain played nine games – seven wins, two draws – and qualified for Euro 2020.

Having survived the loss of his daughter, Enrique wanted to return and the federation supported him. But Moreno did not want to leave at all. Enrique thought this was a knife in the back and did not offer Robert a job at his headquarters. “I understand him,” Enrique replied with a frozen face. “He worked hard for the opportunity to coach the national team. He is ambitious, but for me this is a betrayal, I would not do that. I do not want such a person in my team. “Ambition is good quality, excessive ambition is a big disadvantage.”

It made Spain the most dominant team in the Euro

Hierro’s game against Russia in the 2018 World Cup was the latest in a classic tiki-taka style, revealing its worst aspects, which even Pep Guardiola despised: “I hate passes for the sake of the pass – all this tiki -taka. Such emissions are rubbish. They have no clear purpose. You have to pass the ball having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. The final destination must be the opponent’s goal “.

The Spanish team in June 2018 did exactly what Pep disparagingly described: collecting crazy possession numbers but not creating many opportunities. Enrique has rebuilt everything: Spain no longer considers ball control a reason to exist. It is now a dominant offensive team and not a sterile passing machine.

In terms of dominance, Spain was the best team last summer. Enrique’s team is a leader not only in terms of traditional Spanish-style measurements, but also in parameters that reflect real superiority (opportunities were created, penalties and actions there). The Spanish classic helped take control, but other than that, there were high-quality tools for destroying opponents.

At the heart of such indicators is the 4-3-3 design that Louis loves:

Spain at Euro 2020

Position football and Sergio Busquets provide control (he has a lot of room for responsibility, as the other midfielders clearly have more offensive functions). And the side triangles are responsible for the moments. A wide variety of spins are possible in them, but there is a general principle: on the left, Jordi Alba gives width through spasmodic spasms and on the right, it often comes from the extreme, since the back does not go forward. as active. Other details are constantly changing to confuse opponents. Such a football helps in the regular penetration in the penalty area, even without an obvious top creator in the team.

It is not difficult to guess that the ability to attack is a key skill that Enrique is looking for in the candidates for the national team. “Every player has the ability to defend, but midfielders, center backs and backs must be aggressive. “They have to have good technique, as they have to move the ball forward through the rally from their own half court,” revealed Lewis, known for his tendency for secrecy.

The moments do not come only through the described placement techniques. Under Enrique, the team became more vertical (not compared to other teams, but compared to old Spain). At Euro 2020, the Spaniards are in second place in the shots after the ball returns from another goal and are equal in first place in goals from quick attacks (although only 15th in shots after them). “When we defend, we tend to put pressure on the opponent in the third of the field, in order for the ball to reach as close to the goal as possible,” Enrique confirmed the numbers. “The plan is always the same and then the situation may be different.”

The change is not fundamental: the main type of attack is traditionally patient (10 or more passes – here in first place by a huge margin). A useful bonus tool just appeared. Pedri confirms: “The coach asks us to put more pressure and says that sometimes it is better to take risks and lose the ball, because by putting pressure we can get it back quickly and surprise the opponent before he has time to rebuild.”

Despite the consistent performance, Enrique’s actions were challenged until the match against Slovakia, in which the dazzling statistics were eventually converted into a scoreboard. Reaching the semifinals, he confirmed that his plans are working. At Euro 2020, the Spanish national team played attractive football – surpassing opponents in every match and constantly creating many opportunities. A higher score was prevented only by abnormal mistakes (Alvaro Morata, Gerard Moreno and even Dani Olmo managed to play the striker with fakes, but no one noticed it consistently) and rare mistakes for such a level, as, for example, in the case of the Croatians’ first goal in the 1/8 final, when Unai Simon managed to concede after all partners.

“We played well in this tournament,” Luis Enrique concluded unexpectedly after losing in the Euro semifinals. “After nine years of walking in the desert, Spain is again among the top teams.”

Enrique will have a title contender for the 2022 World Cup

Two matches of the League of Nations, which took place in the autumn of 2021, convinced that the success of the Spanish national team in the Euro was not accidental. In the semi-finals, Red Fury beat the European champions, breaking Italy’s unbeaten run of 37 games and in the final, just before the win – it is not known how it would all have ended if it were not for Bape’s controversial goal.

Most importantly, Enrique has opened up new faces for the national team that will determine its performance in the 2022 World Cup. Unai Simon won the competition over David De Gea. Aymeric Laporte, who became Spain’s main center-back at Euro, played his first match for the national team a week before the start of the tournament. And the teenager Pedri, at the age of 19, proved to be a contender for the Golden Ball. Of the 17 players who made it to the Euro 2020 semi-finals, eight played in the Nations League final three months later. Luis Enrique seems to have decided on the key defenders, but he continues to look for the best combinations in the attack.

Today’s Spanish national team is not as ideal as the “golden generation” of 2010, but it is compassionate. They know their weaknesses, but they continue the path they started three years ago, believing in their coach’s ideas. “If we compare ourselves to the best version of the national team of 2008 and 2012, we may not be so good, but we only have to compare ourselves with our current opponents and today we are not worse than any team in the world.” summed up the result of his work in 2021, Luis Enrique.

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Photo: Kawamori / AFLO, Petter Arvidson / Keystone Press Agency; Ivill, Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / Stringer, Laurence Griffiths, Friedemann Vogel – Pool, Jose Manuel Vidal – Pool

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