It will take a while to see the light, but the documentary that the Spanish Federation is preparing about Euro 2020, played in 2021, will have moments, phrases and images that few today can suspect. And that, much less, could they suspect at the beginning of the journey, on Monday, August 31, in the almost clandestinity then of the Las Rozas Football City. That documentary will not have the victory pike, as the sequences of 2008, 2010 and 2012 did, but it is unquestionable that it will generate interest. In the Federation, it is still not clear how they will offer it, through what channels or platforms, but they do assure that it will contain the necessary pills to explain how this selection has left behind anonymity, if not contempt, to become a collective that transmits certainties above all else. Some doubt too, why not. But, above all, certainties.


“Here we pay to be a good coach, not to be nice.” The phrase is heard many times in conversations with employees and managers of the Federation if the topic of conversation is Luis Enrique. And it seems obvious that the coach will never win a prize for sympathy outside the door. He deeply despises the work of journalists, it is a fact, and that makes him teach himself distant at best, arrogant, haughty and even rude at worst. However, his personality is undeniable, the leadership ability to put behind him an entire Federation and its group of footballers. “I am the leader,” he repeated without blushing, and he is. And when there are no stars in a team, the coach is fine. With Del Bosque, also because of his way of being, the opposite happened. He let the brutal stars shine on the grass.


Since Luis Aragons put the national team to dance around the ball, Spain was very clear about what it was playing for many years. When that, due to the passage of time, faded (2014 World Cup in Brazil onwards), the national team entered a somewhat schizophrenic process. I wanted to keep playing the same thing, but I no longer had players to do it. Del Bosque tried to modify it, but couldn’t. Lopetegui also tried, and at times he seemed to succeed, but after two years, the team he had made fell, with Hierro on the bench, smelling of the usual. Luis Enrique’s team, on the other hand, plays something else. He defends very high, presses very high and has a lot of the ball, yes, but there are very few horizontal, inconsequential possessions. Spain wants the ball to attack vertically, and that is why the firm bet by guys like Olmo, Morata or Ferran Torres above.


There are intangibles that also count in football. In the last decade, the national team players, due to the inertia of the sport and also due to their status in the world of the ball, had lost contact with reality. That has changed. Since the arrival of Luis Rubiales and its communications department, the selection has been much more accessible. The low profile that most of the players currently have has also contributed to this, it is true, but the work of that department, bringing the players closer to the fans, has been key. In times when other organizations such as LaLiga and the clubs themselves insist on being more and more hermetic, distancing football from the people, the Federation is going in the opposite direction, and even in times of Covid-19, all footballers have offered interviews and thus have been introduced to people. Not so Luis Enrique, who is Luis Enrique also for the bad.


The average age of the national team, 26.5 years, invites us to think that the unleashed wave has traveled. There is no memory of an elimination of Spain picked up by the press and the fans with such a good reading. The closest thing to that can be in the falls of 2002 (Korea and Japan) and 2006 (Germany). The fans think there is something interesting going on, and they are right. The skeleton of the team (Unai Simn, Laporte, Pedri, Olmo, Ferran, etc …) is very young, and the middle-aged still have a long way to go. In addition, the next World Cup is in a year and a half due to the pandemic, so that, when I achieve the classification that I will resume in September, the tournament presents itself with good expectations.


It is the word most used by all members of the expedition. And there is nothing that can question it. Only four footballers have ever been starters (Unai Simn, Laporte, Pedri and Koke), and there have been people who have played very little, beyond Diego Llorente and Adama. The case of Thiago is striking, a consecrated player who has had a residual role and, nevertheless, was the first in the celebrations of goals and classifications. Later, it was very striking to see how, after moving forward, the hugs and claps were distributed not only between players and coach, but also between delegates, utilleros, physios, communication, various assistants … “We are a family,” Laporte repeated yesterday, the last to arrive, already consecrated. Contrary to the last concentrations in large events, where the atmosphere was strange for several reasons (in Brazil due to the decline of the great ones, in France due to the Iker theme and in Russia due to the Lopetegui pump), this selection is a raft. of oil. And whoever does not want to adapt, do not go.


One of the main criticisms of Luis Enrique when he offered the list was that many of the protagonists were not regular starters on their teams. And it was true: Laporte, Ferran Torres, Eric Garcia or Sarabia They exemplified those bets (not others, most of them, fixed holders on their teams). Perhaps because of that, perhaps due to the good planning of Rafael Pol, the physical trainer, the truth is that Spain, which has played three overtimes in the three crosses, has always finished much better than the rival physically. Last Tuesday, at Wembley, the Italian soccer players spent the extra time asking for the time while the Spaniards, although already tired, ran more, wanted more, proposed more.

As it would be absurd to deny the evidence, Luis Enrique, despite everything, still has a lot of work ahead of him. Spain has only won one game of the six of this European Championship in 90 minutes, it is difficult for them to find the path of the opposing goalkeeper and their rivals find theirs at a glance.


Luis Enrique, has said it once, chooses his defenses for various reasons, but one of them, very important, is the output of the ball that they offer, and the ability to play far from the era of his own and without fixed references to whom to mark. The profile of the centrals (Laporte, Pau Torres, Eric Garca and Llorente) responds to that taste for good ball handling. Well done, although throughout the tournament it has been seen that the opponents needed very little to generate danger for Spain. A hanging ball or a simple kickback, transition as it is now called, was a toothache. Lewandowski’s goal, Shaqiri’s or even Chiesa’s on Tuesday attest to that lack of forcefulness that the team must improve upon.


If Spain had translated into goals their superiority in almost every aspect of the game, they would have won every game comfortably. “We have been superior to the contrary in all the games”Luis Enrique proclaimed on the Wembley lawn, and he may be right, but precisely the translation of that superiority on the scoreboard is a problem for Spain. He got drunk against Slovakia and Croatia, yes, with 10 goals, but in the other three, he scored one per game, something much lower than what the game marked. Of the 13 goals he has scored in six games, three have come from the rival team’s own goal. The team is far superior to the rivals most of the time, but it does not translate into goals. And that is a serious problem, because the goal cannot be worked on. This collectivization of the goal that the coach intends is a utopia.


That, the charisma, the coach has plenty, but on the field, today, there is none. Perhaps there may be charisma in the future, when those who today are footballers who have achieved their present begin to have a past to cling to. Chiellini and Bonucci suffered as few times yesterday, but they held their selection almost with their mere presence. If time and degrees allow it, young people will be able to acquire that quality, which those who already attend degrees do not have: Busquets is a great captain when the lights go out, but it is not Sergio Ramos, who by the way waited for the selection to finish in the Eurocup to announce his signing for PSG, the place from which he wants to return. With all its flaws, that, charisma, is not one of them. Perhaps he is part of the solution to this.

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