Since Gerard Piqué resigned from the national team after the World Cup in Russia, securing a partner for Sergio Ramos has been one of the most hackneyed issues in each concentration of the Spanish team. With the alienations in hand, the lack of the captain in the list for the Eurocup has left the place most awarded by Luis Enrique empty. Ramos accumulated 15 of the matches that the coach adds in his two stages on the bench for La Roja, including the three in the matches that Robert Moreno replaced him without being appointed head coach yet. The appearance of Pau Torres seemed to settle the matter. For the times he has used him since he burst as an absolute international, he would be the Villarreal center-back whom Luis Enrique should now look for a companion. “I am not worried about any position,” he warned yesterday. However, before the premiere at the Eurocup against Sweden, on June 14, in La Cartuja, the coach must solve the problem, if he opts for a stable duo, in an area as delicate as the defense axis, dotted with the fledgling of most of the centrals summoned.
Except for Pau Torres and Azpilicueta, who can also play as a right-back, Eric García (20 years, 7 times international), Diego Llorente (27, 7) and Aymeric Laporte (26, has not debuted) mix being rookies in a great competition of selections with few minutes played in their clubs. Under these conditions, the current European champion, the Portugal of Cristiano Ronaldo, João Félix, Diogo Jota, André Silva, Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes will test this afternoon at the Metropolitano (19.30, La 1) the first defensive reconstruction with which to try Luis Enrique. Including your choice of goalkeeper.
In the environment of the Ciudad del Fútbol de Las Rozas, Robert Sánchez can assault the title by winning the comparison with Unai Simón and De Gea in the final stretch of the course. If the emerging Brighton goalkeeper made his debut today or against Lithuania on Tuesday and convinced Luis Enrique, he would be one more element with no flight hours in a national team tournament to add. “Any of the 24 could play as a starter, in this football there is a lot of topic,” said the coach on Thursday when questioned about whether it was not an inconvenience to line up Robert Sánchez in the Eurocup before De Gea, with more experience. The Asturian has also refuted the cliché that a central line should be established, although he has tried to consolidate it on several occasions, always with Ramos as fixed.
Between injuries and states of form, of a hypothetical defensive line idealized by Luis Enrique with De Gea, Carvajal, Ramos, Pau Torres or Íñigo Martínez, and Jordi Alba, only the Blaugrana side (32 years, 72 caps) seems to have a guaranteed position .
The reconfiguration of the defense without Ramos is not trivial. The coach only dispensed with the starting center back in the last two games against Georgia (1-2) and Kosovo (3-1) and in three friendlies. In one of these, the one played in October 2020 (0-0) in Lisbon, the central couple was formed by Eric García and Diego Llorente. At the end of the meeting, Luis Enrique praised their match. “They have both been superb, we must not forget that Eric is a 19-year-old player, but with a lot of personality. Diego Llorente has been good with the ball and very effective in defensive actions. To make that pressure it was important that the two centrals played like this, “explained the Asturian coach at the time, although he could not help exclaiming:” Puffff, there are times that I am also overwhelmed! “, After being stressed that that day only Rodri and Busquets, of the players he used, had more than ten caps. The couple also repeated in another gig, in the Netherlands (1-1) before being lined up in an official match in Georgia (1-2), after Luis Enrique realized in the first half against Greece that Ramos was not well after giving it the first 45 minutes.
With the idea of the game that Luis Enrique has imposed, the centrals must sweep up to the center of the field any attempt by the opponent to leave playing that exceeds the high pressure. A risky system that in those twenty games under his direction has been beaten with 15 goals, six of them in the last seven games.
From what he said this Thursday, it does not seem that the coach opts to change his 4-3-3 header to implement a system of three centrals. “My theory is that I can change the system, but I am convinced that you have to master a system perfectly. We can play with others, but it is better to dominate one than not to play with three and not dominate them, ”argued Luis Enrique, although he clarified that there are situations in matches in which Spain forms with three defenders when one of the full-backs comes up to pressure. With Sergi Roberto, who has not entered the list either, there was a lot of that circumstance, even when he joined to be more of a fourth midfielder than a full-back. His place is now occupied by Marcos Llorente, less fine in the elaboration, but with more capacity to break into space when he passes from the center of the field. The roster of right-backs has also been extensive in the Luis Enrique era. The aforementioned Sergi Roberto, Carvajal, Jonny Otto, Navas, Pedro Porro, Marcos Llorente and Azpilicueta have passed through there. The latter, the only time he was cited by Luis Enrique before his return on this list. It was in Wales (1-4), in October 2018. At that time, he should not have imagined that in 2021 and, ten days after his debut at the European Championship, he would have to redo the defense almost completely. The examination before CR will give clues.
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