Spain’s ‘band of brothers’ united ahead of clash vs. Germany

DOHA, Qatar – The last four times FC Bayern Munich played against Barcelona in the Champions League, the aggregate result was 11-0 for the Bundesliga side. From this one could conclude that Spain has no chance in the World Cup duel against Germany on Sunday.

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Why? Because of these Bayern teams, national coach Hansi Flick can use Manuel Neuer, Josh Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Niklas Sule and Thomas Müller in the Al Bayt Stadium. And because this weekend you’ll find in Luis Enrique’s squad Jordi Alba, Eric Garcia, Sergio Busquets, Ansu Fati, Pedri, Gavi, Alejandro Balde and Ferran Torres – all of whom have been beaten across the floor by German power, menace and brawn over the past two game times.

These four games were dramatic, clear displays of power, precision, speed, height and athletic aggression. We’re not counting Bayern’s 8-2 win yet Blaugrana in the 2020/21 quarterfinals. It felt as if German football was actively trying to snuff out the life of Spain’s delicate, possession-based, technically delightful artistry.

So extensive has the Spanish cream been demolished at club level that it’s safe to bet that Pedri, Gavi, Busquets, Alba et al. knew exactly how Costa Rica felt when they left the Al Thumama pitch on Wednesday – they beat 7-0. After such glorious effervescence of La Roja, against an opponent previously famous for their defensive organization, two questions immediately arise: is this form transferable to the crucial Group E game against Germany? And should their fans worry that newfound complacency and hubris could undermine Spain’s readiness for a titanic fight?

Last question first. I was in the players’ tunnel working when Luis Enrique’s winning team came off the pitch. No shouting, no rejoicing, no wild celebrations – if you hadn’t seen the game or the scoreboard you would have thought it was half-time with a 0-0 equaliser. No hint of cockiness or boastfulness. Faces serious, serious manner – the vibe was: job done, what’s next?

One of Luis Enrique’s immediate analytical reactions was: “Look, we could be beaten in the next game, but under no circumstances because we relaxed after that result.” It’s worth believing, too. The 52-year-old Asturian has charmed his staff. Spain’s footballers are convinced of his plan, submit to his rules, are imbued with his “attack, press, ambition” philosophy. In fact, they are really enjoying themselves whispering while staying at the University of Qatar.

Whether the brutal destruction of Costa Rica is a concrete testament to Spain overcoming the vast physical, sporting and attitudinal advantages that Germany’s Bayern core recently imposed on Spain’s Barca contingent is another question. Each game is a new universe of details, mentality, form, luck and tactics.

One thing, however, is crystal clear: The throbbing, optimistic evangelical message that has been booming out of Spain’s training headquarters since arriving last week spoke the truth. I will share some of the statements we made officially and confidentially:

“We are a band of brothers.”
“The atmosphere is spectacular.”
“We’re a group of friends having fun and being there for each other.”
“There’s no way this group will let everyone down…”

I can’t stress enough the shimmering buzz of ambition, commitment, attitude and determination.

Now, does all that sentiment negate the fact that Spain are a young, raw group, lacking an outright goalscorer in the style of Fernando Torres, David Villa or even Raul in his day? Not alone. But the majority of Spanish players not only get in shape at just the right time, they also appear fresh, agile and quick-witted and genuinely enjoy the way their coach gives them the freedom to go out and play beautifully.

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It is a burning memory for me that in the days leading up to Spain’s 2010 World Cup win, Xavi interrupted the FIFA referees’ briefing, chaired by Horacio Elisondo, and insisted: “Enough of all that, how you the rules will prevail – go and tell Sepp Blatter the pitches are bad, the lawn needs mowing and watering and that he prefers defensive, boring football.”

This version of La Roja wasn’t just in South Africa to win, they wanted to attack, entertain and make the football look beautiful. This year’s group is also longing for it.

Vicente del Bosque’s team won the 2010 World Cup with the lowest goal tally ever, blazing their way across choppy, slow-playing surfaces and generally playing against either defensive or treacherous rivals (semi-final opponents Germany aside). Germany coach Joachim Löw admired the Spanish vigor, technique, vision and passion for passing. In the years that followed, German football retained its penchant for big, tough, aggressive and fast footballers, but relentlessly added better technical skills and tactical understanding. At least at club level, leaning on the Spanish template in connection with traditional Germanic values ​​has proven its worth.

Cut to today and Spain are back in that young state where they want to perform with thrill, skill, daring and incessant passing speed. Luis Enrique let her off the leash. They all truly believe, as Xavi vehemently stated 12 years ago, that the World Cup should be a place of entertainment, extravagance and elegance…a place for dreamers to dream and for inspiration to children around the world. Most other teams seem happy to bet on nothing worse than a 0-0 draw and hoping for a lucky late goal or two. That attitude would make Spain’s main player puke in disgust.

What was interesting about it, how La Roja Costa Rica treated was the way they went further at the throat even with three, four or five goals against Keylor Navas. No energy saving, no slowing down subconsciously and no coasting in the last 15 minutes. Spain continued to demonstrate exactly the ambition and full attacking drive promised by Luis Enrique. If they lead 1-0 in an important game later in the tournament with five minutes to go, then expect them to do the exact same thing.

“Don’t get me wrong, our job is to win so I won’t turn down a win if we haven’t played well,” he told me the other day with a laugh. “But we will never die of fear, if we ever have to go down then with ambition, on the front foot and trying to beat everyone we meet.”

I love these kinds of speeches, especially the ones that go the way. did you watch her Didn’t they shed light on an otherwise too cautious, too boring World Cup? However, now comes a different kind of test.

Germany is the proverbial wounded animal. Twice over. Should they lose on Sunday there is a good chance they will be eliminated from a World Cup group stage for the second time in four years. Utter and complete disaster for The team. Furthermore, they will understandably seek cold-blooded revenge for the 6-0 defeat they suffered from Spain in the last UEFA Nations League clash between these two sides in November 2020. One should even hope that Flick prepared a nice Black Forest gateau or some other Bavarian delicacy to thank Luis Enrique before the game. That six-goal humiliation of Low’s Germany in Seville two years ago was the last straw for him and the 2014 World Cup-winning coach announced his retirement from that post a few months later. Flick got the job. Everything is in now.

Another thing that stood out about Spain’s Heavenly Seven against Costa Rica was the way their coach is in the zone. Marco Asensio has been treated like a substitute at Real Madrid this season, out of contract in June and having made only three starts from 21 possible games so far. Despite this, he is Spain’s first-choice centre-forward and is scoring. Torres, subjugated by Ousmane Dembele’s demand to play on the right flank at Barcelona, ​​returns to his natural position and scores twice. Balde – 18, a member of the Barcelona B squad back in August and called up by Spain as a last-minute substitute – arrives and helps with a sprint and dribble to score a goal that occupies two-thirds of the pitch. Welcome to the World Cup, kid. Instead of Ansu Fati, Dani Olmo, who has been left behind after a brutal few months out through injury, starts and not only scores but scores the crucial opening goal and also provides an assist. And Nico Williams, only in the squad since September, is brought in, supporting the crucial goal of winning in Portugal and then reaching the Nations League semi-finals against Costa Rica, and setting up Carlos Soler’s goal (save for one). La RojaThe five substitutes either scored or scored against Costa Rica.)

All in all, Spain’s coach seems to have the touch of Midas at the moment. When the teams come out at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday, Germany will think: They can do what Bayern did to Barca, while the Spanish players will all stick to the mantra: “In Luis Enrique we trust.”

Whoever prevails is guaranteed to be exactly the kind of open, offensive and hopefully exciting duel that this curious World Cup needs.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/spain-esp/story/4812533/spains-band-of-brothers-united-ahead-of-clash-vs-germany Spain’s ‘band of brothers’ united ahead of clash vs. Germany

Emma Bowman

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