Spain show resilience as Anu, Gavi look ready for World Cup


Perhaps Alfio “Coco” Basile said it best. In the run-up to the 2006 World Cup, head coach Basile was approached by one of the coaches making his debut in the tournament. Argentina At that time, and asked him for advice. Basile listened and then, by way of offering guidance, asked himself a question: does the debutant have any pre-tournament matches scheduled for his team. Yes, he was told, to which Basil replied: “And can’t you cancel them?” After all, he reasoned, you’re not going to see anything.

This is not completely true, but it was indicated on Thursday night spain played his last preparatory game before world Cuptaking on Jordan The national team in Amman before flying to Doha, the capital of Qatar. There was a moment when there were only 11 minutes left and the score was 2-0 when a commentator on a Spanish radio station said the best thing about the game: that there were only 11 minutes left. There would be two more goals — but there was something in that comment.

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When the final whistle blew, Spain had beaten Jordan 3–1. Until then, rodriusually a defensive midfielder Manchester Cityplaying in defense of the attackers marco asensio And Dani Olmo Playing as inside midfielder. jeremy pino front and striker alvaro morata Totally sat out.

Ninety minutes earlier, an unpredictable starting XI consisted of robert sanchez in goal, making his second appearance, and Aymeric Laporte To the left. Coke started in the deep midfield position; Asensio was the false number 9; Pablo Sarabia And Anu Fati Played on both sides of it.

Those were the most important changes. Only they were not important at all. The last game before the start of a tournament is always the moment everyone is looking for a clue, a glimpse of the way it’s going to turn out; what kind of shape the team is in, which players look fittest, freshest and in best form; Who is likely to start and who is emerging as the first unexpected inclusion.

It’s often difficult to second-guess head coach Luis Enrique, there are often surprises in his lineup, so looking forward to the meeting. Costa Rica, Spain’s opening match in Qatar, this friendly was supposed to be helpful. At least that’s the theory.

Enrique made a shocking statement after the match. “It’s the first time in my career as a coach that I didn’t have a lineup,” he revealed. Although he backtracked from that statement a short while later, insisting that he had in fact decided who played and where, what the Spain coach explained was that he had asked the players to prepare for the opening match. How many minutes do you need to be ready against Costa Rica? “I just synced it up so they could have the minutes they needed,” he admitted. “The only thing I demanded of them is that once they’re out there, they compete.”

It was not that simple though. Enrique told that the captain of Spain Sergio Busquets and 19 year old pedi Was asked to play but didn’t get a minute, and Rodri ending up in defense didn’t mean he was going to play there – something the head coach pointed out by mentioning Asensio and Olmo in midfield They do not have a place, he insisted. he also mentioned pheran torres not starting didn’t mean he wouldn’t start carlos solarInclusion in midfield was not a stone’s throw, and Busquets’ absence didn’t mean … in fact, it probably meant something.

given his absence, as well as that of Pedri, Morata and the goalkeeper unai simon, It doesn’t seem like much of a leap to suggest that he was sitting out as a safety, an indication that he would start against Costa Rica. Laporte’s place at left-back was explained as a temporary necessity, sadly: the following day it would be confirmed that jose luis gaya has been dropped from the squad, thus making it even more expedient not to take the risk Jordi Alba In a friendly match, as the manager later said, the good thing was that “no one was injured” (19-year-old barcelona player alejandro balde Gaya has been called in to replace the team). Laporte will line up in the middle of the defense as a starter.

And there may be things in the context of such a game that point to decisions to come or doubts resolved. It’s not always positive — there was a moment’s hesitation from the guard pau torres It almost allowed Jordan to score early, which probably wouldn’t matter if it weren’t a recurring theme – and there was very little that was truly outstanding.

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Rodrigo Fez explains why Annu Fati’s inclusion in Spain’s World Cup squad is a surprise.

Still, there were some good things too. One of them could be Asensio, yet another one of those players where Enrique got it right, despite what everyone else said. Picked in the summer despite not playing much for Real Madrid, Asensio was a semi-surprise in the final squad, with the coach insisting he sees him as a false number 9, as much or more as a forward, which explains helps in the absence of borja iglesias Or really any real striker other than Morata.

Here, in an otherwise largely ordinary game, the coach said Asensio was “fantastic, a different level”. Enrique also explained how with the process speeding up in Amman he tried to limit his movement to make him the number 9 which is a little less bogus.

Asensio didn’t really score. The three who did — Anu Fati, Gavi, nico williams – Born in the 21st century, part of the new guard of players. The coach said it didn’t matter—”Probably the goal scorers would be the three oldest,” he said—but felt it mattered. With the young players, all of them reaching their first World Cup, there’s always a heightened sense of making a case, building a momentum, and they’re all players who can start. Maybe now more than ever that friendly.

Eighteen-year-old Gavi was likely to start anyway — no one leads the press like him, and Enrique immediately pounces on the footballer who lies before the eyes — but it was another performance that he Supports none, that he is not intimidated by the senior team.

Meanwhile, Williams and Anu occupy attacking roles where the starts are not so obvious – Ferran? Sarabia? Olmo? – And although there were doubts about the inclusion of both in the squad, there were glimpses that showed why they are here, that they might just provide what Spain lack: those deep defensive squads. A way to cut that frustrates opponents. By the time Spain landed in Qatar, the chances of either of them starting were looking so slim.

There’s something different about Williams: quicker, more direct, skilful, his goal against Jordan was brilliantly taken. As far as Anu is concerned, there seems to be an almost mystical quality to her. The acceleration may not be so obvious now after injury, and clearly the level hasn’t been there either – one of the reasons Enrique left him out of the squad in the autumn – but he has something that really No one else has. some connections. Some ability to score goals, almost without trying, some instinct, some understanding that it’s just going to happen for him, just going to fall. He did not hit his shot particularly well; In fact, he hit it off pretty badly. But he scored. That’s what he does.

“Ansu has a special relationship with the goal,” Enrique said. And it matters, if any of it did. If any of it does. Basil knew. Enrique did too. “Don’t draw any conclusions today,” said the Spain manager when it was finally over and the real things could begin.

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