The entanglement of Spain

The unexpected draw against Greece (1-1) at the beginning of the qualification for the Qatar World Cup 2022 and the problems that Spain found to generate chances in the Granada duel have put some of the decisions of the coach, Luis Enrique, into question. from the construction of the eleven to the pact with Sergio Ramos so that he only played the first 45 minutes and was substituted at half-time. At stake were the first three points of the qualifying phase, and the agreement with the captain, who at 34 has just come out of an injury, conveyed a certain sense of frivolity in the face of the significance and officiality of the clash.

The collaboration of Luis Enrique in the eager pursuit of the center-back to become the player with the most caps touched the limit between what it is to compete for a World Cup place and to feed an individual record. The center-back has 179 meetings with Spain, five from equaling the world record, held by the Egyptian Ahmed Hassan (184 appointments between 1995 and 2012). It has not been the first time that such a strategy has been given. On other occasions, Ramos has played only the final minutes of a game, in a testimonial way, with the aim of scoring another match on his particular international scoreboard.

The substitution of Jordi Alba (Gayà was the starter) also squeaked in response to the moment in which he exhibits in Barcelona and the need for depth that the conservative approach of the Greeks was going to demand. On the other side, without the absent Jesús Navas and Carvajal, the ownership went to Marcos Llorente. His location in that demarcation explained why Luis Enrique only summoned Pedro Porro as a pure right-back. Llorente, the midfielder with the most goal of the call, offered physical display in the pressure and in the round trip, but did not find spaces to break in speed.

As has happened when Simeone has used him as a lane, his performance once again conveyed that moving away the highest scoring midfielder from the attack zones wasted the version of the leading scorer with which he has exploited. “I feel more comfortable on the inside, but if I have to play as a winger to help the team, I do it. Greece is a very organized team, with very clear defensive ideas. Maybe we need a little more imbalance and overflow, “said the rojiblanco after the match.

Despite the fact that Luis Enrique warned in the previous one that the defeat of Germany in November (6-0) was history, against the Greeks he lined up nine of the headlines who that night inoculated a good dose of optimism around a team that from the World Cup in Brazil 2014 goes from disappointment to disappointment. The two changes in the eleven responded to the losses of Sergi Roberto and Pau Torres. He replaced him with Eric García, whom Pep Guardiola has ostracized at Manchester City since he announced that he would not renew. His teammate Ferran Torres, lined up as a right winger, does not now enjoy much confidence from the Catalan coach either. He was not seen loose or waist or to step on the area, his two best virtues.

The pass to the foot and the pasty circulations that marked the beginning of the decline of the Spain of the tiqui-taca in the 2018 World Cup in Russia re-emerged on Thursday against the orderly Greece. The tie awarded not only entangles obtaining the first place in the group that gives direct access to the Qatar World Cup. The unexpected setback was the result of a poor offensive game until the entrance of Bryan Gil. The Eibar winger had opposed the ownership with his shocking training sessions in Las Rozas, but he was left in shock. The same as Pedri, who when he entered was blocked by an individual marking and could not put his partnership with Jordi Alba on the line either.

Spain became entangled in the last third of the field with a predictable football that could not dismantle the 4-1-4-1 that Greece coach John van’t Schip designed. The Dutch coach closed the spaces to the two interiors, Koke and Canales, and with the defensive line very close to his goalkeeper’s area, he did not leave meters so that the sides and ends could surprise. “We lacked fluency. With a little more rhythm and changing from side to side and playing on the wing to have more spaces we would have done better. We didn’t know how to do it, ”Pedri analyzed.

The statistics of the match described the return to inconsequential touch. The Spanish internationals gave 921 passes, the second highest record in the 19 games led by Luis Enrique (after 949 from 0-2 to Malta in March 2019, qualifying for the Euro), for a total of nine shots, the figure lowest with the Asturian coach at the head of the selection. Under his direction, La Roja averages 18 shots per game and seven between the three suits. Against Greece he stayed in three in this section, also the worst record with Luis Enrique along with the one achieved against Switzerland in Valdebebas (1-0), last October in the Nations League. But that day Spain fired 12 times. Against Greece, there was a lot of security pass, little overflow and less auction, the most blunt Spain of the Luis Enrique era. This Sunday, in Tbilisi, Georgia awaits, another team that will propose a match of similar characteristics.

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