So optimistic is Spain in the headquarters of the University of Qatar that the squad came to speculate against Japan (8:00 p.m., La 1 and World Goal). Option finally discarded, according to Luis Enrique. No conjecture to avoid a supposed crossover with Brazil, the one expected in the quarterfinals if La Roja is first in the group.
The resistant Croatia, the happy Morocco or the disturbing Belgium would be the adversary in the round of 16. If that phase is overcome, if logic does not twist, the next Spanish appointment would be with Canarinha.
If La Roja, to which a point is needed to reach the round of 16, were second, after facing the leader of the group of Croats, Moroccans and Belgians, their most predictable opponent would be Portugal, which they defeated in Braga two months ago.
“We want to be first and if Brazil touches, then we will play against Brazil. Being first would mean that we have been the best. we have asked ourselves the question [de si especular o no], but let’s imagine that the two group games go 0-0 and in the 95th minute Japan and Costa Rica score. We would be out!” The Spanish coach added: “In the last basketball European Championship, a team missed a free throw to come across Spain and then lost [el croata Bojan Bogdanovic para verse con el equipo de Sergio Scariolo y eludir a la Eslovenia de Luka Doncic]”.
Luis Enrique was enthusiastic about the team, which until now has never gone below the score and whose performances on the pitch “are a good reflection of the training sessions”. And he pointed again to the common sense of the group. “An orchestra in which the defenders must bring the ball in the best conditions to the forwards and the forwards ensure that the rivals reach their attackers in the worst conditions.” The Asturian underlined the offensive commitment of all his teams: “I interpret football as a Show. You have to give the fans something to make them proud and, if they throw me out after three games, let them throw me out”.
In Luis Enrique’s demanding format, the forwards must be versatile and empty out in 45-60 minutes. “That’s why they are the first to be traded and they know it,” said the coach. In the line of three forwards, Dani Olmo has played every minute —like Unai Simón, Rodri and Laporte—. And Ansu Fati, Yeremy Pino and Sarabia have not yet taken off their tracksuits. The same as the goalkeepers Robert Sánchez and David Raya, and Eric García, Hugo Guillamón, Pau Torres and Marcos Llorente. “We already know how this works, someone will be left without playing.”
Against Japan, which has options to pass the round, like Costa Rica and Germany, it is expected that there will be some change. Rodri and Gavi, with discomfort, did not train last Tuesday – “there is no reason to force anyone” – and Busquets is one card away from suspension. Due to Luis Enrique’s firm desire to close the group stage in the lead, nothing, or very little, may be saved.
Spain expects a “complicated” match against an opponent “very worked, dynamic, fast and very heavy”. “I like their midfield,” Luis Enrique said, “and it won’t be easy to take the ball away from them.” Japan resisted to the limit with Germany, which was then stunned. The story changed against Costa Rica, when it was the Costa Ricans, so beaten by Spain, who stunned the members of Kubo and Kamada’s team.
So much optimism exudes the Red, that intramural nobody haggles that the objective is to play seven games, that is, to stand in the final. Luis Enrique, always so daring, does not cut a hair: “We must continue to believe that we are the best until proven otherwise.”
For now, by steps. First Japan and then whatever comes their way before settling whether Neymar’s Brazil or Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal is better. Unforeseen ambushes abound in World Cups.
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