Cazorla back in a Spain squad still without coach Luis Enrique
The spotlight is due to fall back onto the Spain team, whose Euro 2020 qualifying campaign sees them visit the Faroe Islands on 7 June and host Sweden at the Bernabéu three days later. Given the sporadic nature of an international game that sometimes gets lost amid all the drama and controversies of club football, it's worth drawing attention to these dates. Yesterday the squad was announced, and was headlined by the unexpected and very welcome return of Santi Cazorla, a player who Luis Aragonés first brought into the fold for the tournament where it all started for La Roja: their wonderful and now far off European Championship win in Austria and Switzerland. He's had a good season at Villarreal, and this is his reward.
Alongside Cazorla, there was also a recall for Real Sociedad's fine young forward Mikel Oyarzabal. Those two aside, it was all lads who've featured already under Luis Enrique. We didn't see him yesterday, and haven't been given the impression we're likely to in June: the emergency that precipitated his sudden return home from Malta is ongoing. He of course has a right to respect and discretion in the situation he's in, and he's getting it; but we're reaching a point where it has to be asked whether Spain can be without a coach for so long. In the wake of the misfortune he's suffered, the RFEF has closed ranks around the 49-year-old in support of him, but sooner or later will have to consider how long this can go on for.
We made a good start to qualifying, beating Norway at home and Malta away, and now prepare for these two games tacked on to the end of a Spanish season which, with LaLiga finishing this weekend, is closed out by Barcelona and Valencia's Copa del Rey final next Saturday. Unlike on previous occasions, though, the players won't join up in drips and drabs; they'll all report for duty on the 3rd. Allied with the low spirits at Real Madrid and Atlético, and Barça too (unless the Copa cheers them up) such fixture scheduling creates a strange atmosphere around games in which Spain will be led by Luis Enrique's assistant Robert Moreno, who has the tools on paper but scant experience in the field. Not your average international week.