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World Cup 2022

Luis Enrique bristles after narrow Spain win

Spain boss Luis Enrique was in a prickly mood as he defended his team’s performance after a 1-0 win over Switzerland in the Nations League on Thursday.

Pablo Sarabia scored the lone goal of the match in the 13th minute, getting on the end of Marcos Llorente’s driven pass across the penalty area for a simple tap-in after a quick regain of possession.

That Sarabia’s goal came in that scenario spoke to the nature of Spain’s possession over the 90 minutes, with Switzerland firing just as many shots with 34 per cent of the ball in comparison to La Roja’s 66 per cent.

When asked about Diego Llorente’s second start in three games, after making only three appearances since 2020 coming into this international window, Luis Enrique went on the front foot both on selection and approach.

Lucho said:

“I know a lot about football and he [Llorente] comes because he is among the best.

“He has played continuously. Both him and Pau [Torres]. They found [Sergio] Busquets many times, which is important.

“Marco Asensio has given us things. Morata has been spectacular and with either as our number nine, they have put us in favourable scenarios.

“Yes, when they pressure us, they take us to one side of the pitch and we don’t have solutions. When you do it very well you can hit a ball up to the forward, and we alter their pressure.

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Luis Enrique bristles after narrow Spain win

“We are good there too, but it is not our identity. Our identity is to play with the ball. In these games, I insist. You have to have the personality to play.”

Much like in the Euro 2020 quarter-final, Switzerland was able to create specific problems in transition, while remaining compact in defensive phases to largely deny Spain sustainable avenues to goal.

It has been a running theme for Luis Enrique’s side in this start to the Nations League, where high volumes of possession did not translate to dominance in shot volume and quality in draws against Portugal and the Czech Republic.

The 52-year-old Spain boss pointed to Switzerland’s quality as a team and their record at home – where they were previously unbeaten in a competitive game since 2014 – to validate his own team’s performance.

“Switzerland are in the World Cup and will give us problems,” Enrique said. “For me, the mistake is not having the ball in the opposite end of the field. We defend with the ball.

“The result conditions everything. This is how football works. This team had 23 matches without losing an official match at home. Winning away is very difficult. It has a cost, how could it be otherwise.

“The game is conditioned by the result. I’m happy about the spirit of the players and their attitude. It is a positive match that gives us the possibility to still depend on ourselves.

“Switzerland has been undefeated for eight years, 23 official games without losing at home and we had the opportunity to beat them.”

Likewise, for more football news like this, click here.

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Luis Enrique bristles after narrow Spain win

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