A Spain side that defies consensus

Years ago, there was a healthy consensus surrounding the Spain national team: all of the players were awful, except those from the club supported by the observer, and the coach was an imbecile for not calling up more of my side’s players and fewer from all the others. The dawn of tiki-taka complicated this viewpoint. It was a revolutionary style that many found boring and others saw as beautiful and intelligent. And, of course, it was Barcelona-branded, so practically all Real Madrid fans held the former opinion. But that side won everything there is to win and it emitted such an air of camaraderie (Barcelona without Dani Alves and Leo Messi but with Iker Casillas) that Madrid fans eventually accepted it, and even more so when Vicente del Bosque took over from Luis Aragonés. Only the staunchest pro-Mourinho supporters excluded themselves.

The current team is more difficult to judge because there are so many intertwining parts: the longing for that generation, which seems a little unfair; the suspicion of anti-Madridismo surrounding Luis Enrique, which he is not afraid to stoke; a certain perseverance with the tiki-taka model, which in the absence of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta is unconvincing and irritates its detractors even more, because it smacks of post-Guardiolaism; and Luis Enrique himself, whose sudden return to the position at the expense of interim coach Roberto Moreno was rancorous and who makes little effort to endear himself to anyone, his chin jutting out in every press conference.

Fans fail to connect with Luis Enrique's Spain

As results are hardly consistent either, we don’t know which card to hold. Spain are a decent side from box to box but prone to faffing in both areas, where games are decided. Most fans in the street aren’t familiar with the faces of half the starting line-up and the more famous ones, see Álvaro Morata for details, are often on the end of a duck shoot. Every now and then a player appears, as if from another world, such as Robert Sánchez, Porro or Abel Ruiz, shots in the dark by Luis Enrique while he studiously ignores Iago Aspas and Nacho. There are fans who want to get excited and there are fans who are beginning to desert, fed up of being fed up. We’ll see what happens in Kosovo.