Ansu Fati shines as Spain seal good start to new Luis Enrique tenure
Luis Enrique’s first two games back as Spain boss have offered up clear indications of his plans for La Roja. Aided by his fine display in Thursday’s draw in Germany, David de Gea has reasserted himself as first choice in goal as his chief competitor for the gloves, Kepa Arrizabalaga, struggles for form. Pau Torres looks like being Sergio Ramos’ regular defensive partner, while Thiago Alcántara, who as time goes by is adding greater intelligence to his game and taking fewer risks on tricky embellishments, is shaping up as the man to pull the strings in midfield. Meanwhile, a new generation is emerging that will put pressure on the likes of Koke, Saúl Ñíguez, Isco, Dani Parejo and Álvaro Morata, who may not find it easy to force their way back in. That new wave of players includes six debutants, among whom Ansu Fati stands out.
Ansu Fati, Sergio Ramos both break records in Ukraine stroll
The 17-year-old took just a minute to make his mark in Sunday’s thumping win over Ukraine, advancing into the area to win a penalty that Ramos converted with his customary composure. Soon after, Fati grabbed a goal of his own, in the process adding to his haul of ‘youngest-ever’ records, this time at the expense of Real Unión’s Juan Errazquin, who, despite his death at the age of just 25, had a major impact on the Spanish game just under a century ago. Ramos then netted again, this time with his head, to take his Spain tally to 23. That’s a record, too: the Real Madrid man is now international football's most prolific defender, having overtaken legendary Argentina captain Daniel Passarella. In the second half, Ferran Torres rounded off the scoring with a precision shot across goalkeeper Andrii Pyatov and into the corner.
Two games, four points, Fati’s breakthrough (I always felt Quique Setién didn’t use him enough at Barcelona), and a handful of debuts. A good start. We’re left with question marks over whether Sergio Busquets still has it in him (he struggled in Stuttgart and didn’t play yesterday) and what will happen at number nine. Neither Rodrigo Moreno nor Gerard Moreno fully convinced against Germany and Ukraine, respectively, but the question of who to play in the position and whether to go with an out-and-out centre-forward or someone arriving from deep has been a matter of discussion in Spain since Euro 2012. We’ll have to see. For now, though, the side have very much fulfilled their task of beginning the new season by getting a couple of good results on the board and blooding some fresh faces that offer cause for optimism for the future.