“At the level he is at, he is a player who always has to come, he gives you work, tactical intelligence and help with the ball,” they sentenced in the federation about Koke (Madrid, 29 years old) when in November 2020 he was summoned by Luis Enrique after almost two years without donning the national team jersey. In that window he was pointed out by the coach as one of the great architects of the defeat of Germany (6-0). In this time, he has emerged as one of the leading footballers of the Asturian coach, who seemed to have banished him. Since his return was consummated, Koke is the most used midfielder by Luis Enrique with five games (three starters) and 360 minutes in total.
His quoted inactivity as an international player corresponded with a notable downturn in his game at Atlético. He transmitted symptoms of being an aging footballer before his time due to the physical exhaustion that Simeone’s football demanded of him and the turnovers that he collected in many games. “Atlético’s style has benefited me a lot, because we have had more possession, we have had more ball and we have attacked much more, with more offensive people …” Koke reasoned on Tuesday to explain his improvement in performance. This course has registered his best passing success rate (90%) since the 13-14 season, that of his explosion as an Atlético player. In the national team, he even improves that figure with 93% good passes.
“In the end, it is to keep working, not to change much what I did in the past. Yes it is true that the players go through moments of form, but I have not changed anything, ”the rojiblanco midfielder emphasizes. “Simeone has doubled his responsibility by making him play as a reference midfielder ahead of the defense, something he hadn’t dared to do so continuously before. He has really enjoyed this year, ”they explain from Atlético.
Koke’s fit in Luis Enrique’s 4-3-3 is to be one of the two midfielders accompanying Busquets or Rodrigo Hernández. “I am used to working in any system, be it in my club or in the national team. I am strong on my legs. I’m good. If not, I wouldn’t be here. I would be on vacation “, he claims while exposing his fit in the coach’s script:” Luis Enrique has a clear idea of how he has to play and I, as a midfielder, have a clear message that he wants to send me to have the ball, to get to the top and always be aware of possession, even when defending.
Serious, very focused on his answers, without letting his trunk rest on the aerodynamic game console player chairs with which the federation has finished off the modern and functional press room that it has planted in the Ciudad del Fútbol of Las Rozas, Koke has presented to this concentration with the League title under his arm and as one of the veterans of the newest group that Spain has presented since the World Cup in South Africa 2010. He is one of the five players called by Luis Enrique who has linked all the major competitions since 2014: World Cup in Brazil, Euro Cup in France and World Cup in Russia. In all these appointments, Spain failed amid the comparisons with the generation that crowned La Roja with the conquest of the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 Euro Cups. Koke belongs to the litter that should take over from the champions and now it seems feel a less stale and burdensome environment due to the need to emulate the golden age. “You have to see the pressure that was here after winning a European Championship, a World Cup and another European Championship. This pressure is less noticeable, we are a young group and when it comes time to play, this is going to be good for people ”, he said. “We have been preparing this tournament for a long time and I think that people are very excited and very hungry. It does not mean that those of us before did not have it, but it shows in the environment ”, abounds.
The climate that is generated in the day-to-day during the concentration and the competition will not contribute the leadership of the absent Sergio Ramos. “Not only Ramos has been left out, but important people within his club and in Spain. It is true that Sergio is always in the national team and it becomes a bit strange at the beginning that he is not there, but we have a young group, with enthusiasm and desire, ”said Koke, who became one of the team’s captains as he was only surpassed in caps by Busquets (122) and Jordi Alba (72). “The best advice they gave me when I was able to be the first captain of Atlético was not to change my way of being or to believe me more than anyone else.”
David de Gea (Manchester United), Pau Torres and Gerard Moreno) joined the concentration this Tuesday after having had one more day of rest for having played in the Europa League final. This Friday, Luis Enrique will already be able to count on the 24 footballers he summoned when Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Eric García, Laporte, Rodri and Ferran Torres (Manchester City) joined, who played the Champions League final last Saturday. The Asturian coach will start preparing this afternoon with the whole group for Friday’s friendly with Portugal.