While the Spanish national team is in agony on the eve of the EURO, the U21s made their debut with the absolute national team in a historic event. The federal chaos caused by Busquets' positive for COVID and UEFA's imposition to play the match, forced the RFEF to give a mass debut to 17 players in a match that will remain for posterity as a Spain-Lithuania match at the highest footballing level.
Behind the display of football that Luis de la Fuente's players put on, there was the absurdity of the RFEF and the Spanish Government. If the players selected by Luis Enrique for the EURO were not present at the Butarque stadium (Leganés), it was due to the bad luck of a contagion and strict protocols. Perhaps even the Spanish Football Federation had prepared a plan B. At the end of the match, the RFEF announced a second positive result in the Absolute team: Diego Llorente. Everything points to an outbreak and Rubiales warned that in the coming days there could be more positives.
If we analyse the situation we arrive at the month of April 2021. The RFEF claims that on that date it asked the Government to vaccinate the players who were going to take part in the EURO, just as it did with the players who were going to the Olympic Games. The Ministry of Health refused its permission and that was the end of the matter. Sánchez did not want to burn his image in the ungrateful showcase of football and Rubiales did not want to upset more than necessary. All parties kept their fingers crossed that there would be no contagion. And it came. Sergio Busquets left for Barcelona to be quarantined and the rest of the players have locked themselves away in Las Rozas for tests and more tests because Spain's debut is on Monday 14 June.
There is no point in looking for the guilty party. Even with the vaccine injected, there is a chance of catching the disease. But it is necessary to focus on how the Government and the RFEF want to camouflage their inoperativeness. Rubiales is incapable of attacking Health Ministry, even if he has the evidence for his request. After the match against Lithuania, he said: "I've been dealing with the vaccination issue for more than two months and we've been given the go-ahead now and we're delighted". Happy to remain at Sánchez's feet, whatever the cost. Just in case, from Moncloa they have already slipped that the request was made three days before the positive. But no one has come forward. Not a single statement that goes beyond the role played by the parties. They lie with light and stenographers.
Spain's 4-0 win over Lithuania was switched from TVE to TDP at the last minute. RTVE already had it in for Rubiales for scheduling Spain-Portugal at 19:30, more than two hours before Prime Time. The only interesting friendly match before the EURO was watched by 1,800,000 people at mid-afternoon, while the night was shared between "La Voz Kids" (2,670,000) and "Viernes Deluxe" (1,357,000). Rubiales lashed out at RTVE's directors: "I'm going to say this with respect and politeness. This goes to those at the top. For the first time in history they have taken the decision to move a match scheduled on the first channel to another one. Today we needed more support than ever. If you want to respect the players, the national team and the RFEF, this is not the way".
And that leaves Luis Enrique. The coach who will face a firing squad if Spain do not win the EURO on 11 July. The squad list did not include Real Madrid players, nor Sergio Ramos, nor did it cover the 26 places allowed by UEFA. He opted for the 24 players he sees as having the best future with La Roja. The youngest. The ones who will cause the least problems. He didn't want to see the captain's face on the bench. In exchange he has found an earthquake of those who split in two cities. What Spain needed. More division. The players train individually in Las Rozas. They attend the talks by telematic means. And if that wasn't enough, a new bubble of deserving players has arrived at a nearby hotel and is training at the Ciudad del Fútbol while waiting to travel to Seville or go back to the beach.
Brais Méndez, Rodrigo Moreno, Fornals, Carlos Soler, Kepa and Albiol are training while waiting for Luis Enrique to decide what to do on Friday. He has up to 48 hours before kick-off to change players, but he will no longer be able to expand the list. In any case, the preparation has been precarious and that could take its toll on Spain against Sweden, with Poland and Slovakia coming up next to gauge the team's current plight.
We expected nothing less from the Government-RFEF duo. They have made Florentino Pérez good when it occurred to him to sign Lopetegui two days before the World Cup in Russia. The botched job and the lie as a weapon to survive.