La Furia Roja crashed and burnt at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But all fingers point toward Luis Enrique as the former Spanish manager has since stepped down as head coach.
Spain in Qatar: Are we disappointed or optimistic?
Spain was sent packing during the FIFA 2022 World Cup round of 16 following a 3-0 penalty defeat to Morocco at the Education City Stadium in Qatar. La Roja’s departure wasn’t so surprising as it was disappointing. Despite an incredible 7-0 opening success against Costa Rica, as the results that followed were a string of average performances.
Sergio Busquets, Carlos Soler, and Pablo Sarabia couldn’t damage Morocco from the spot. Although they initially took some of the brunts, this shouldn’t overshadow Spain’s overall showing in Qatar. The team of Louis Enrique scored two goals from their meetings with Germany, Japan, and Morocco. In hindsight, it’s laughable that bookmakers marked this team among the favourites.
Entering the Morocco fixture, Spain was, on paper, the second-highest-scoring team in the tournament. However, their dismantling of a senior Costa Rica squad in Group E was perhaps the misleading result that presented the added hope that stemmed from fans and critics alike. The most worrying question surrounded Spain’s lack of attacking threat and why Louis Enrique selected Marco Asensio over Alvaro Morata. A player who’d notably displayed more production. Morata did show up versus Morocco, but by the time he was substituted, it was too late for Spain.
Choice for young players
The players aren’t to blame, and fans should remain optimistic about this young group. However, Luis Enrique has and will take the heat for Spain’s exit. This manager refused to back up his squad with experience. Instead he opted for players who hadn’t experienced a major tournament. Let alone a penalty shootout in the biggest sporting event on earth.
With this result, Spain became the first nation in World Cup history to lose four penalty shootouts and the second side not to score in one. The available sportsbook promo codes for the World Cup, in combination with a correct prediction on Spain losing via penalties, would’ve been an incredibly lucrative wager. Although most soccer love to place a bet or two, this unpredictable outcome left analysts dumbfounded at the decision-making of Enrique.
Farewell Luis Enrique
Enrique made a massive mistake by allowing unseasoned, inexperienced players to be the core of this Spanish team. Sergio Ramos, for example, would’ve been the perfect choice to step up and take a penalty.
The 2-1 loss to Japan was embarrassing enough, but at least Spain scrapped past this group-stage loss. And as Spain was gifted one of the lowest-ranked sides in the round of 16, it was squandered by incompetent and meaningless decisions. However, at the very least, Enrique held his hands high and took responsibility.
Enrique’s post-game comment
“I chose the takers; I thought they were the best on the pitch,” Enrique commented post-game. “[If I could change something] I would take [Morocco keeper Yassine] Bounou away and put another goalkeeper there. [Penalties] are not a lottery for me. You have to control yourself. What we did was dominate the game, but we lacked the goal; that is the reality, that is the truth.”
While Enrique isn’t lying, Spain did dominate the possession. Unfortunately, this was useless without any purpose behind the 1000+ passing attempts. Most of the passing statistics showed the Spanish team moved the ball side to side instead of pressing and moving forward.
The good news for Spanish football fans is that Enrique is no longer. With a talented group of young stars evolving year by year, La Roja can embark on a new international journey that hopefully diversifies youth and experience.
Enrique has stepped down and will return as a domestic manager in the future.
Spain has since declared that Under-21 boss Luis de la Fuente will replace Enrique, as the former Barcelona boss is already making plans.
“I see myself joining a club and developing a squad with greater finesse and precision than I had time to do with the National Team,” the 52-year-old commented during a Twitch stream. “This campaign is ending, and I will surely wait for next season. In the meantime, I have enlisted for a mountain bike race with my brother!”.