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The retro approach

Álvaro Morata bagged twice against Malta on Tuesday.
Álvaro Morata bagged twice against Malta on Tuesday. / AFP
  • A LOOK AT LA LIGA

  • Luis Enrique opted to bring back some old faces for the latest round of international fixtures

While England took the talented teenager approach and Germany ditched their World Cup winners for the new generation, Spain decided to go all retro.

Luis Enrique opted to bring back the old faces who hadn't been part of a national team picture for many years and the unique approach worked - mostly.

Jesus Navas, a World Cup winner returned after five years without a cap to head up the experiment of recalling players who had been overlooked for several years. After impressing as the starting right-back in the 2-1 win against Norway, he returned to tee up a goal for Álvaro Morata in the 2-0 success in Malta. Navas will be back when the qualifiers reconvene in June.

As for the other old-timers who won a recall, the experiment wasn't quite so conclusive. Daniel Parejo's consistent form for Valencia earned him a chance at a second cap and if he continues to impress in the remainder of the season he'll come into consideration again.

Sergio Canales, now 28, didn't do anything to indicate that a second invite may be winging its way to Real Betis.

It was tough on Juan Bernat to be asked to play out of position when given his first chance in over three years. The Spain coach owes the Paris Saint Germain full-back for playing as a winger.

Iker Muniain also had little game time to prove that it was worth waiting since 2012 to double his cap count. The Spain manager will have a watching brief on him at Athletic Bilbao and also Jaime Mata of Getafe who was rewarded for his fairytale rise from the lower leagues to leading Spanish scorer in La Liga with a flirting cameo against Norway.

When Luis Enrique took over as Spain manager he claimed he had sixty players to choose from and now he's closing in on having trialled that number. It's almost as if one by one he's going through the register of players.

The man who benefited the most from the two games was Álvaro Morata. Against Norway he created a multitude of chances yet failed to covert any of them. It was astute management to select him from the start for a second time in Malta and it paid off with a brace of goals. Morata returned to Atlético Madrid a far more confident individual than the man who has struggled in the colours of Chelsea.

The other winners were his Atleti teammate Rodri who looks like a successor to Sergi Busquets, if or when the Barcelona ball-winner is not around. Mario Hermoso also looked assured in his first competitive start for his country. Hermoso was of course partnered in defence by the legendary Sergio Ramos.

Ramos is Spain's rock. Sadly, the coach had to depart abruptly to deal with urgent family matters; his captain took on the extra leadership responsibilities. While others may be uncertain of their international future Ramos exudes confidence.

When he was put on the spot with less than twenty minutes to go and the scores level against Norway, he stepped forwards to convert his twelfth penalty of the season. It wasn't just any penalty, it was what is commonly known as a 'Panenka'. This was named after a Czech player called Antonin Panenka in the 1970s. Since then many players have imitated the technique but Ramos has perfected it.

In fact, Ramos has pulled off the trick so many times it should now be named after him!