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UEFA Nations League: Spain doubt again after consecutive defeats



By: AP | Madrid |

Published: November 16, 2018 11:35:25 pm


Croatia v Spain Spain lost 3-2 against Croatia on Thursday after conceding in the final minute. (Reuters)

The hype about Luis Enrique and his team in Spain did not last long. Disappointing performances in the UEFA League League have left "La Roja" under scrutiny after what has become a promising start under the new coach.

Luis Enrique was hired to change the national team after the initial World Cup elimination. He led Spain to an impressive victory, including a 2-1 win over England at Wembley Stadium, a 6-0 win against Croatian World Cup finalists and a 4-1 victory over Wales in a friendly in Cardiff. Both in attack and defense, the team plays well again. And a solid performance makes fans excited about the team's future.

But a good start was followed by two consecutive defeats: 3-2 to England in Spain's first home defeat in 15 years, and 3-2 in Croatia on Thursday after conceding in the final minute. That result left Spain hoping for a draw between England and Croatia at Wembley on Sunday to advance to the last four of the latest competitions in Europe.

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"The results are what they are," Luis Enrique said. "This group is very difficult, with the two best national teams in the world. We are less favorite but the first two matches went very well. I am happy with the way we play even though there are many things that must be improved. "

Luis Enrique applied a number of promising changes in his first two games in charge, making Spain press high and play a more aggressive style. The "tiki-taka" passing game is lost, and the focus switches to a more vertical approach to attack. But the high defensive line that worked well in the first two games allowed the team to play aggressively, making Spain more vulnerable to defense. The team conceded six goals in its last two matches after beating opponents 12-2 in the first match under Luis Enrique.

The former Barcelona coach said this inconsistency was expected given Spain was still in the process of replacing the golden generation that helped Spain win two European Championships and a World Cup. "We already know the situation with changes in generations and we are trying to make a team," Luis Enrique said. "There are young players who need self-confidence and there is plenty of room for improvement."

Luis Enrique cannot rely on people like Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Gerard Pique, who retired from the national team after the World Cup. He experimented gradually with children. He will have the opportunity to bring Spain back on track in a friendly match against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday at Las Palmas, the team's final match of the year. The hosts will be without defender Sergio Ramos, who will be rested because of a muscle disease.

Luis Enrique said he had planned to prepare the team for the Euro 2020 qualifier, which starts next year. "I am optimistic," said Luis Enrique. "I want to see England and Croatia draw so we can play in the top four (League of Nations), but our goal is the European Championship and to qualify for the tournament with a group of young players."

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