Luis Enrique's Spain are beginning to resemble Javier Clemente's Spain. While, in Ángel María Villar's time at the RFEF, the problems only surrounded sporting matters, in Rubiales's Spain there are daily fires in every department and that affects football. There are two months to go until the World Cup in Qatar and Luis Enrique has a problem with the call-ups that will come to nothing because he will not give in and will die for his team.
Spain arrived at La Romareda after almost 20 years to secure their place in the Final Four of the UEFA Nations League. Hardly anyone in the stands or on TV knew that, but you could tell that Zaragoza was looking forward to welcoming Spain there on the eve of El Pilar.
👔🇪🇸 Luis Enrique, tras perder ante Suiza— GOAL España (@GoalEspana) September 25, 2022
🗣️ "Esta derrota no me genera ninguna duda de cara al Mundial"
😕 "No recuerdo una primera parte con tantos jugadores imprecisos en mi carrera como seleccionador"
🙏 "Tengo fe total en el equipo"pic.twitter.com/Zij9hMSMXz
Everything Luis Enrique does generates controversy and the line-up that was announced two hours earlier was no less controversial. Eric Garcia and Pau Torres are his centre-backs, although neither of them are of the required standard. The persistence with Jordi Alba borders on the absurd. A player he ousted at Barcelona, who now does not play with Xavi and on whom the coach is betting. At least the Catalan responded with a goal and a public thank you to the coach for having him.
Unai Simón is another of the problems that Luis Enrique has been looking for. Perhaps the standard of goalkeeping in Spain has fallen, but David Raya and Robert Sanchez along with the Athletic Bilbao starter are not the most suitable to represent La Roja when you have higher level names like Kepa or De Gea who, although not world elite, are demanded every week in big teams in Europe in the Premier League.
Busquets, Gavi and Pedri play the same role for Spain as they do for Barça and that makes the engine room work quite well. Up front, Luis Enrique surprised again with Sarabia, Ferran Torres and Asensio as false strikers. Again forcing the presence of players with little performance in their teams. Again the memories of Clemente.
Manuel Akanji plays for Manchester City. And he plays everything. That could have activated the Spanish coaching staff to fix the marking better. The first goal came from a corner that Akanji shot from the edge of the six-yard box, first on the ground to bounce past Unai Simon, who was waiting on the goal line.
The second goal made less sense. It came from another corner that Switzerland crossed into the six-yard box because they knew Simon was not going to come out from under the sticks. In the tangle of legs, Embolo struck Akanji's poor pass with his shin barely two yards from goal in a schoolyard after-school goal. Defensive nonsense.
Spain went forward, but found a veteran Switzerland where even Shaqiri, now playing for Chicago in the MLS, who was already in the team that beat Spain in the World Cup in South Africa, had minutes. Freuler, Rodríguez and Seferovic were able to dry up Williams, Borja Iglesias and Jeremy Pino, with whom Luis Enrique ended up attacking.
It is clear that Spain's level of play is not good enough to reach the Final Four of the European competition. The homework is to beat Portugal in Braga after Cristiano's side thrashed the Czech Republic 4-0 and have a draw in the final to be played sometime in the summer of 2023, when no one remembers.
Luis Enrique will bet on Torres, Eric García, Unai Simón or Jordi Alba for the World Cup, nobody expects Ramos, Piqué or De Gea to return. It is the toll that the national team must pay for seeing immature players grow up with a shirt that has a star on the shield.