A team with many young people, most of them without experience in the great international challenges, is facing the vertical of the World Cup, a wall that Spain has always overcome since 1978. Failure in the final phase has serious consequences for the main soccer powers . Not getting to dispute it is a credibility hack and a stigma for the generation that crashes along the way. Spain has been forced into this adventure in two bad games.
The last qualifying stages have been easy to navigate, because the team was magnificent or because there were enough players left to manage the status of favorites on the route to the World Cup. Spain conquered the place without difficulties in the 2014 World Cups (Brazil) and Russia (2018). In both cases, there were plenty of footballers who had won the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. The subsequent frustrations – Spain was eliminated from service in Brazil and in the round of 16 four years later – signaled a worrying regression.
Only one world champion – Busquets – featured in the lineup that faced Georgia. He was the youngest of the team that won the title in South Africa, a wonderful midfielder who is now not a permanent starter at Barça, or with Spain. Erosion also affects him, like Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba and Navas, representatives of a generation that sounds unrepeatable at the moment.
They have made it through the Rubicon of their careers, but their ancestry will prove decisive in the team. Their function exceeds performance in the field. It is up to a handful of young people who seem impressed by the magnitude of the work to come. Without the invitation to the anguish of reaching a World Cup, the team destroyed Germany with six goals. But the World Cup is something else, major words that scare. The draw with Greece and the agonizing victory in Georgia have dispatched with a stroke of the pen the optimism that raised the win for the Germans.
Two games have served to assume that Spain will have to swim without a float in turbulent waters. It is a team that earned the most credit in the youth categories, but lacks the experience to handle the current tensions. Unai Simón, Eric García and Ferran Torres were starters in both games. None have been international 10 times. Pedro Porro, Pedri and Bryan Gil made their sudoku debuts against Georgia.
Rarely, probably never, has such a tender team submitted to the rigor of reaching the World Cup. Either they find refuge in the experience of the veterans or they will be consumed by the stress of the first three qualifying games. There are no doubts, however, about the roof of these players. They have more class and resources than time to prove it.
The national team was crying out for new blood. He already has it. Luis Enrique understood it soon and well. It is easy to admit the merits of this handful of young people, confirmed in some previous matches. If Spain intends to recover the lost step, it will have to do it with the majority of these rookies. They lack the boil that only big competitions and the highest demands provide. They just saw it: two seemingly simple matches turned into a barefoot dog.
Veterans are no longer asked to lead the national team to previous peaks, but their leadership is crucial. It is up to young people intimidated by the magnitude of the challenge that they have begun and the media consequences of two disappointing parties to protect them. It is a delicate job that involves avoiding the mistrust that inexperience produces and consolidating the intuited talent in several players. Everything indicates that this talent exists and is abundant, but it is still incipient and fragile.