Spain closes the qualifying phase of the European Championship in Germany with a positive balance. Eight games and one defeat, against Scotland, which stains Luis de la Fuente’s service record as Spanish coach. The one from Haro took stock of what has happened so far: “I give an A to the performance of the players. Although we wanted to win all eight games and it couldn’t be, “The work they are doing to build a team and integrate the idea of the game has been very good.”
The players themselves, through the mouth of their captain, Álvaro Morata, also praised the work of De la Fuente and his technical team: “Things take time to build and it is about doing as much as possible as a team. De la Fuente is giving a lot of confidence to all the players to create a block and I would like him to continue in the national team after the Euro Cup.”
Candidates or favorites in the Euro Cup?
The numbers offer a clear portrait of this new team that began, as Morata warned, “a new winning cycle” with the conquest of the Nations League.” Temuri Ketsbaia, the Cypriot coach, pointed it out after his team’s defeat in Limassol (1-3) last Thursday. “This Spain is the best team in the world, not in Europe. I think he has something better than the team from 2008 to 2012, because he uses the bands a lot. “She is the number one favorite for the Euro.” Hypothesis that was confirmed by the Georgian coach, the former French winger Willy Sagnol: “Spain is the best team in Europe and the favorite to win the Euro Cup.”
This use of the wings and the verticality of their attackers is the main difference between Luis De la Fuente’s Spain and Luis Enrique’s. The team has scored 25 goals in this classification, with an average of more than three goals per game. Eight of those goals have come from headers, none from a penalty, one from an own goal and all after 102 shots, 48 between the sticks and five on the woodwork.
Fewer passes, more shots and more goals
Spain recovers and quickly searches the opposite area with its wingers to score those 25 goals that make them the third highest scoring team in the classification behind Portugal, which has added 36 in its ten wins. France scored 27 (14 against Gibraltar in the last game) which has allowed them to win all their games, Belgium 22, England and Switzerland 21, Denmark 19 or Italy 16 (some play their last game tonight). AND At an individual level, Lukaku (14), Cristiano Ronaldo (10), Mbappé (9), Kane (8), Hojlund and McTominay (7), Amdouni, Haaland. Spain, a TEAM as De la Fuente likes to say, is coral even when it comes to scoring, a responsibility shared by Joselu (5), Morata (4), Ferran (3), Dani Olmo, Gavi and Lamine scored two, adding one Álex Baena, Merino, Sancet, Oyarzabal, Le Normand and Nico Williams. In the assists, Nico’s three stand out and Carvajal, Fabián and Joselu appear with two. Despite being a direct team, the selection of De la Fuente has monopolized possession during the classification with an average of 63% (with Luis Enrique it reached 72%) which has allowed him to amass an average of 692 passes per game, generating a shot every 63 passes when with his predecessor he exceeded 100 before shooting.
On a defensive level, it is a team that stands out for its pressure after losses, which leads it to recover many balls in the opponent’s field. Spain, which has received 67 fouls and committed only 36, has only allowed 34 shots to its opponents. And as it could not be otherwise, the most senior player, Manchester City midfielder Rodri, has corrected on 48 occasions with an average of eight recoveries per game, compared to six for Laporte. In the disciplinary section, Spain has seen 16 yellow cards.
De la Fuente has called up 44 players: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Marco Asensio, Iago Aspas, Azpilicueta, Álex Baena, Balde, Carvajal, Ceballos, Ansu Fati, Nacho, Aleix García, David García, Fran García, Gayá, Grimaldo, Rodri, Borja Iglesias, Laporte, Le Normand, Íñigo Martínez , Merino, Morata, Navas, Dani Olmo, Oyarzabal, Pedraza, Yeremy Pino, Pedro Porro, Gavi, David Raya, Remiro, Riquelme, Abel Ruiz, Fabián, Sancet, Joselu, Unai Simón, Robert Sánchez, Ferran Torres, Pau Torres, Nico Williams, Lamine Yamal, Bryan Zaragoza and Martín Zubimendi. 44 footballers of which 5 have been goalkeepers, 15 defenders, and 24 midfielders and forwards. De la Fuente pointed out that “we are on the path to building a great team, a great team. Players recognize an idea and a style. There is still work to do, but the involvement and commitment of the players is outstanding.”
From the fetish 4-2-3-1 to the 4-1-4-1 in defense
The idea of attacking play involves a flexible tactical system that focuses on the 4-2-3-1, the coach’s favorite formation, varying to 4-3-3. When the ball is released, Unai Simón’s feet are essential. The centre-backs open up, the full-backs give way through the lanes and both Rodri and the interiors, and even the wingers, come to the aid to come out playing. A team from which the coach asks for speed and verticality from three quarters forward to generate volume of offensive play. A team capable of playing in spaces or dominating the area when the rival closes in with the presence of strikers from the presence of Joselu or Morata and the incorporation of strikers and substitute players in the second line. To do this, De la Fuente has recovered the figure of the winger with players like Nico Williams, Yeremi Pino, Lamine Yamal, Dani Olmo, Rodrigo Riquelme and Bryan Zaragoza.
When it comes to defending, the 4-2-3-1 often becomes 4-1-4-1, with Morata or Joselupressing high, and Rodri sweeping in front of the defense. At the back, De la Fuente has focused on achieving consistency, which led him to win the Nations League thanks to good defensive performance, while up front he has shown that he has punch, especially against Georgia and Cyprus, but also knowing how to make the most of his chances against more powerful opponents such as Italy or Norway.
The bulk of the group that will form the list for the German Euro Cup He is in those 44 players of whom many have already been with De la Fuente in the U-19 and U-21 teams, whom he mixes with veterans like Navas or Carvajal, experienced players who offer more work than media exposure. A good combination that is evident in the group of captains: Morata, Carvajal, Navas and Rodri. Contrasted footballers with a dazzling track record, but discreet in their statements and away from the noise of social networks.