surinenglish

A LOOK AT LA LIGA

An experiment doomed to fail?

Norway bagged a late draw last Saturday.
Norway bagged a late draw last Saturday. / EFE
  • Just about every above-average Spanish player has got a game for the national team since Luis Enrique, and now Robert Moreno, have been at the helm

Spain have made it to the Euro 2020 finals but it's not the national team we know or anyone recognises anymore. When they scraped the equalising goal to clinch qualification, not one player from the big three clubs, Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atlético, was on the pitch.

When Luis Enrique was appointed coach, with Robert Moreno as assistant, he suggested that there were 50 players worthy of consideration. He wasn't joking. Fifteen months later they were at 49 call-ups, at the last count. This is an incredible sign of the times.

The national team has always been dominated by players from the Spanish giants. When they won the World Cup in 2010 the only player who would never play for Real Madrid or Barcelona was Joan Capdevila. Two years later when winning the European Championships the only man who would never sign for the big two was David Silva.

There are many conclusions you could draw from the non-reliance on talent from the Big Three. It could be that they have too many foreign players and the locals are being frozen out; it could also be that the new coach Moreno is a maverick. Or, it could be that he's picking the wrong team?

There's maybe an element of all of the above. The flow of academy talent at Barcelona almost ground to a halt until the emergence of Ansu Fati and Real Madrid's Spanish stars are not automatic picks. Moreno is certainly willing to give anyone a chance and in doing so I think he's muddied the waters.

Not so long ago you could name nine of the Spain starters with a couple of places up for grabs; now there's probably only one player assured of a start and he was there back in 2010.

Sergio Ramos is the only certain name on the team sheet plus either/or with David De Gea and Kepa as goalkeeper - the rest is a lottery.

Most would argue that Spain's best team would include Isco, Koke, Marco Asensio, Saúl, Ramos and Jordi Alba. None of the aforementioned were included in the side for Sweden. Isco, Koke and Alba didn't even make the squad!

The danger is that Moreno will continue to conscript even more players for the games in November and the spring friendlies now they have qualified. This is noble but potentially self-defeating. His side scraped through the qualifiers with draws against Norway and Sweden. He squeezed players into an effective system but both performances lacked fluency.

Ultimately, despite his experimentation he'll ditch the 'tried' and fall back on the 'trusted'.

It's one of the two goalkeepers, Ramos as captain, Alba left back, Dani Carvajal or Jesús Navas at right back. Midfield will consist of Sergi Busquets, Fabián Ruiz plus Koke or Saul. The attack should include Rodrigo, Isco and Asensio, if he's back to fitness. The only debatable position is alongside Ramos in defence.

Maybe that's the answer? Have a lottery for the spare spot. It seems that your above average Spanish footballer has a better chance of getting a shirt number for the national team than he has getting a correct lottery ticket number.