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Spain Set to Carry on With Possession Soccer After Sacking of Luis Enrique

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The news that Spain’s exit from the 2022 World Cup at the hands of Morocco has spelt the end of Luis Enrique’s tenure as manager has come as little surprise. But with Enrique’s removal, have the Spanish decided that a change in philosophy is also required?

The Spaniards have passed opposing teams off the field for years on end now, and this World Cup has been no different. They put Costa Rica to the sword in the opening match, but the rest of their group stage fixtures were mediocre.

Predictable Spain couldn’t find a way through Morocco 

Against the Moroccans in the round of 16, Spain’s predictability found them out. The Spanish couldn’t break Morocco down, and eventually went out on penalties. Granted that was probably Morocco’s cup final, they will likely find their quarter-final opponents, Portugal a different proposition.

This is because the Portuguese have a cutting edge up front, and it is this that makes the Portuguese the 4/6 favorites in the Morocco vs Portugal odds for their Quarter-Final at the Qatar World Cup. In players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal has one of the regular betting favorites to be the top scorer at any competition, not just in the 2022 World Cup.

He gives them that goal threat, and Spain simply just doesn’t have that. And it’s this that keeps on costing them time and again.

Spain lacks a Torres and Villa style combination

Spain has Álvaro Morata as their main striker. And while the 30-year-old is an exceptionally gifted player, goalscoring isn’t what he is renowned for. At Chelsea, his 47 matches yielded just 16 goals. Whilst at Juventus from 2020 to 2022, he scored 20 goals in 67 matches. He has a decent record, but not outstanding.

Compare that to the Spanish sides of 2008 and 2010, when they had Fernando Torres and David Villa in the team. Villa finished his international career for Spain with 98 caps, and 59 goals, that’s better than one goal every two matches. Villa often occupied a wide left role, with Fernando Torres playing the central role. Torres had a modest international record of 110 games, 38 goals. But between a combination of Torres and Villa, they won both the 2008 European Championship, and the 2010 World Cup, with Spain.

And while Morata currently is roughly one from two for Spain (61 caps, 30 goals), a perfectly respectable record in itself, he doesn’t have an ally like David Villa to back him up, like Torres did. In fact, Morata isn’t even a certain starter for his country!

Promotion for U21 boss Luis de la Fuente

Spain has already named Enrique’s replacement, and it’s the Spanish Under 21 boss, Luis de la Fuente. De la Fuente has not been a head coach at a senior club since 2011, when he was sacked by Alaves, but he does know a lot of the current younger members of the squad, having coached the Spain team at the delayed Tokyo games in 2021, where they won an Olympic Silver medal.

His appointment suggests more of the same possession based soccer. Spain is well known for having a consistent approach to its style across all age categories. So it looks like it will be more of the same when it comes to playing the qualifying matches for the 2024 European Championships.