The 2-3 defeat to England on Monday evening was enough to turn the tide on the Iberian peninsula. The decisions of coach Luis Enrique, most recently celebrated as a great saviour, were doubted for the first time. He himself surprised with an insight into his half-time speech.
The Spanish pros were also confronted with these two numbers after the bitter 2-3 defeat in Seville: For Furia Roja, it was the first home defeat in a compulsory game in 15 (!) years, and in June 2003 they lost 1-0 to Greece, tearing up a series of 27 games in front of their own audience without a single defeat. However, the game against the Three Lions had started very badly, the Spaniards were already 3-0 behind at the break. With three goals behind in a home match into the cabin? That had never happened before in the history of the Spanish federation.
The hymns of praise for Enrique, they were silenced with one blow in the Spanish press. He himself was critical: “The first half was incredibly bad, you have to admit that. We built up pressure too late, the first goal against us then killed us. We made quite a few individual mistakes.”
The Spanish journalists oracled: “A lecture during the break certainly helped to at least improve the result. But Enrique waved off: “I knew that my team, with the attitude it has, doesn’t need a lecture or three substitutions. I had to build them up, give them some tactical tools to go with them and make them positive again.”
“Great nations must suffer”
Wasn’t he at least really mad at his team, though? “It’s probably bad when I say that, but I felt really good during the break. It would have been normal to kill the players, but I built them up, I didn’t exchange any and I told them that big nations have to suffer,” Enrique gave an insight into the Spanish booth.
The positive thing is the reaction of the team and the dedication of the fans in Seville.
Spain captain Sergio Ramos
The domestic press had been particularly keen on the back of the 2010 World Champion. More than ever, there was a lack of understanding about Barcelona’s left-back Jordi Alba not being nominated. In general, the distances between the centre-back and centre-back had not been right at all, which was one of the main points of criticism. Captain Sergio Ramos, who headed in at 2-3 in the seventh minute of injury time, was not able to see the Spaniards at the height, but otherwise did not get the stability they needed in the four-point-chain.
Ramos: “People believe in this team again”.
“The positive thing is the reaction of the team and the dedication of the fans in Seville. It’s fun to play here. It’s a shame we couldn’t reward them with a win. But people believe in this team again,” summed up Sergio Ramos, born in the province of Seville, who doesn’t have the easiest relationship with the crowd there.
On the pitch, the Spanish media had only identified two rays of hope: Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos – and once again Paco Alcacer. Already in Wales, the Dortmund loaner had impressed with a double pack, this time he replaced Saul Niguez after 57 minutes – and gave his team back the hope of a comeback with a sparkling clean header just a turn of the hand later. It was his tenth compulsory goal on his tenth shot to the goal.
And because of his incredible run, it was not only the Marca who demanded that Paco Alcacer be invited back. Enrique, who personally brought the 25-year-old from Valencia to FC Barcelona in 2016, will be hard pressed to avoid the numbers and impressions.