Spanish Coach Luis Enrique: “An Unfriendly Atmosphere Awaits Us in Zagreb”

Daniela Rogulj

Spain’s manager Luis Enrique said on Thursday that his team would be welcomed in Zagreb to an unfriendly atmosphere and that the upcoming Nations League game has no connection to the one played in September when Spain beat Croatia 6:0.

After a hard hit in the first leg of the Nations League in September, Croatia is definitely seeking revenge on Spain to wash the bitter taste from their mouths in front of their home fans. But not even Spain is safe in this new UEFA competition, reports on November 8, 2018. 

“This game has nothing to do with the one in Elche,” said Enrique in Madrid’s Las Rozas suburb, where Spain’s camp is located.

Spain beat Croatia in Elche two months ago with a blowout 6:0 win, sparking the worst defeat for Croatia in history.

“The match in Zagreb will be a real test for us, in an unfriendly atmosphere and against a national team who is seeking revenge from what happened in the first game,” Enrique added.

After defeating England in London 1:2 and Croatia in Elche, Spain was expected to secure first place in the group. But after losing to England last month in Sevilla 3:2, the group took an unexpected turn for the popular national team. 

“I have a bittersweet sweet taste from that match,” Enrique said of the match where his team was already losing 0:3 at halftime. “Our mistakes were not normal at the time, and there were also inaccuracies. The team came back in the second half and that made me happy,” he added.

Spain has six points, England four, and Croatia one – however, Croatia has played one game less. After the November 15 duel against Spain, Croatia will head to London to play against England three days later. The first place team in the group will go onto to the final tournament.

“We depend on ourselves, but also on Croatia,” said Enrique, who announced a list of 24 players on Thursday for the game against Croatia and a friendly match against Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The biggest news is the return of Barcelona’s left-back Jordi Alba. Until now, Enrique has not called up the 29-year-old player who has 66 appearances for the national team, and who Enrique trained in Barcelona. The media demanded his return after his great performances against Real Madrid, Inter and Rayo Vallecano.

“I do not make decisions based on people’s views or on the basis of what somebody thinks. When I make the decisions I’m clear about what I need, and I think it’s best for the team for him to come back right now. I have no personal issues with him. Several factors have been influenced by the present decision. His form, competition in the position he plays and the opponent,” explained Enrique. 

And while Alba returned to the national team, Marcos Alonso, Chelsea’s left-back, was left off the list. Enrique didn’t even call up Nacho Fernández and Marc Bartra, or Borussia Dortmund attacker Paco Alcacer who is in great form. 

“I will not talk about those who are not here,” concluded Luis Enrique’s press conference.

To read more about the UEFA Nations League, click here


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