Spain’s Real reliance means nothing to Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique insisted it did not matter in the slightest that six of Spain’s starting lineup against Croatia were Real Madrid players.
La Roja destroyed the World Cup finalist in the Nations League clash in Elche on Tuesday, breezing to a 6-0 triumph, the biggest defeat in their opponents’ history, AS reported.
Madrid stars Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Nacho Fernandez, Dani Ceballos, Isco and Marco Asensio all started the match, while Sergio Busquets was the one Barcelona player in the first 11.
The selection raised some eyebrows given Luis Enrique’s three years as Barca boss between 2014 and 2017, but the 48-year-old has no interest in which clubs his chosen players represent.
“I did not know or care,” he told a news conference when asked about the number of Madrid players in his lineup. “They belong to the Spanish national team, nothing more. They’re not from one team or another. I see only the shirt of the national team.
“It doesn’t make sense to compare national teams and clubs. We have our idea of playing football and today, everything was amazing. We started with some doubts, but then we were brilliant, with incredible goals.
“What I liked most about these 10 days was the attitude of the players. From what I’ve seen, regardless of the result, I’m delighted.”
Croatia missed early chances through Ivan Santini and Ivan Perisic, but Spain never relinquished control once Saul Niguez broke the deadlock 24 minutes in.
Asensio doubled the lead and then forced an own goal from goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic, before the winger set up Rodrigo Moreno, Ramos and Isco in the second half.
The variety in Spain’s attacking play pleased Luis Enrique the most after the somewhat shaky opening.
“We were facing Croatia, a team which presses very well, and it was difficult for us to get the ball out. Everything changed as of the 20th minute,” he said.
“We had fast, direct football, with good work between the lines. Ramos made the changes of direction, Asensio was tremendous with his goals and passes, we had the success and speed of Rodrigo, Busi distributing the ball... I’ve nothing to object about. I liked almost everything.”
Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic admitted his side ‘gave up’ against Spain, which ‘are much more vertical and dangerous’ under Luis Enrique.
“The best thing we can do is congratulate Spain,” said the World Cup runner-up after the match.
“It’s not easy for us to accept conceding so many goals, but we have to draw some conclusions. We can’t sit down and cry, we have to keep working.
“After their first and second goals went in, we started losing grip and Spain gained momentum, finding it easier to get into our box.
“We didn’t have the solutions. While we played as a team everything worked, but as soon as we stopped playing like that, it was over.
“After their first goal, we weren’t as focused as we were before it. We tried to do things too quickly, we started to abandon our game and you can’t do that against Spain, which was playing at home and controlled the ball. We simply didn’t pose any danger.
“After the second goal, we gave up and it was all over. I wasn’t able to motivate anyone during half-time.
“I tried to get a different second half going, but we went back to our game from the first half and it didn’t work.
“We have to learn from a defeat like this because we’ve seen what happens when we play as a team and what happens when we don’t.
“Spain still had good percentages in possession of the ball, but now they’re much more vertical and dangerous. That was without a doubt tonight.
“I’m not going to make hasty decisions after this game, but Nations League is an official competition and you have to see who can play in it and who can’t.”