BARCELONA – Spain, after nine years, will once again play the quarterfinals of a great tournament. Since 2012, the Red did not enjoy a day as happy as this Monday, when it consummated its last vendetta against Croatia that left it out of the final four of the League of Nations in November 2018 and replaced it among the eight best teams from the continent. Suffer and enjoy, dominate and fight … But never lower your arms. This could be said to be the DNA imposed by Luis Enrique on the national team.
If soccer is a state of mind, that of Spain is outstanding. In another situation, Unai Simón’s mistake, which allowed the Croats to advance, would have sunk the Spanish team. He had already enjoyed two clear scoring chances … and conceded a funny one without Croatia needing to even finish on goal. There, at that moment, the character imposed by Luis Enrique on this selection was verified.
Spain rebelled against fatality and believed in itself without having to change its style book. Sarabia’s draw, after a series of rebounds, rejections and difficulties, was shown by the calm with which the PSG player shot. Azpilicueta’s, which rounded off a superb match, was a demonstration of physical strength … And being able to morally overcome the Croatian draw in added time, worthy of the highest praise.
He turned the drama of extra time into a party, Morata’s party, so noted in days gone by and so happy to be the one who regained his pulse with his goal, great goal. And the party of the selector, who knew how to retouch the team in the decisive moments. Dani Olmo first, Oyarzabal later. And the entire selection, from start to finish. From the humorous own goal that left Unai Simón touched, but not at all sunk, to rebellion and final happiness.
If football, they say, is a state of mind that Luis Enrique has imposed on the national team, he has destroyed, for the moment, the bad omens that were hinted at. From the moment the Asturian coach announced the call for the Eurocup and neither Sergio Ramos nor, for the first time in history, any Real Madrid player appeared on the list, the pressure around the Hispanic dressing room was on the rise.
The successive draws against Sweden and Poland, the obvious lack of goal, the mistakes from the penalty spot and the doubts expressed and proclaimed by the critics did not discourage a squad that the coach kept united without changing their approaches one iota, changing the team just enough to rebuild its ambition and showing that, without being part of the squad of favorites, it has enough credit to enter the shortlist of candidates.
With the champion Portugal eliminated and the Netherlands collapsed, the tournament has shown the risk of taking for granted an absolute favorite above the rest. The Germany that was exhibited in its premiere against Portugal will be played this Tuesday against England after touching the tragedy and asking for the time against Hungary; Italy that completed a magnificent group stage ended up suffering from the Austrian push and Denmark that debuted with Eriksen’s scare and was eliminated on the first day, sentenced their qualification to the quarterfinals by running over Wales in a superb match. .
The inexperienced Spain, in which up to 17 of its players are debutants in a final phase and which barely keeps Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba from an old guard who knew the taste of success nearly a decade ago, has shown through the Luis Enrique’s leadership being on the right track.
She broke down against Slovakia, uncorked the cap announced by the coach and as lively as she was insistent and impetuous, she closed the door to the doomsayers who drew (perhaps wishing) a new failure. Croatia, runner-up in the world, forced her to run without rest. He was able to match an unthinkable 1-3 and showed him all his fang. But this Spain is delighted with suffering. And committed to a mission.
He ended up being Morata, so criticized, and even insulted, in recent days who will round off the success. The success of a selection that turned that suffering, and even depression, of the extension into a party.
Spain will be in the quarterfinals. He deserved it …