We were in the 23rd minute of Spain v Croatia, the half-way stage of the first half and the game was yet to tilt one way or another. Croatia were sitting back comfortably, not coming out much, but when they did so they made us doubt the Spanish defence, over-confident with and without the ball. That's how things were when Spain went on the attack: Sergio Ramos crossed a perfect ball for Carvajal (one day we’ll have to raise a monument to the move), the right back ran, crossed to the front post and Saúl, the home boy from Elche, finished the move with a stunning header, unstoppable, that decided how the game would be resolved. At the break two more goals had gone in, from two tremendous efforts from Asensio. And the game had been decided.
Spain smiling again
Two points determine a line, according to Euclidean geometry. Well, in light of these two games, the line is bullish as they say on the stock market. Spain have got back to playing well, less refined than before, but with more bite, and additionally, better aim in front of goal. Compared to Wembley there were three changes: Asensio, Ceballos and Gayá for Iago Aspas, Thiago and Marcos Alonso. No complaints there. All three fitted in. And its a good thing that Luis Enrique didn’t completely overhaul the line-up. Its a benefit that these are competitive games, not consecutive friendlies, which offer a temptation to use everyone. This way, we’ve seen the team. And we like it.
Praise for Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique deserves a round of applause. In just a few days he’s concocted a new team. Different, efficient, fluid in its play and dangerous up front. Many of the players who were there before have continued, but a number are emerging who weren’t in the set-up or weren’t really part of the plans, but who all of a sudden are turning into the protagonists. Saúl, above all, but also Rodrigo, Asensio, Ceballos… A win at Wembley, a goal-fest against Croatia - two of the semi-finalists at the World Cup. The terrible funk we were in after what happened in Russia, from the gruesome change of coach on the eve of the competition to the unbearable match in the Luzhniki, is all in the past. This team is playing well, winning and represents us. Exactly what the fans ask for from the national side. Elche bears witness to it.