surinenglish

A LOOK AT LA LIGA

Enjoy football

Moarata and Unai Simón.
Moarata and Unai Simón. / EFE
  • Spain are like a richly talented bunch of eleven-year olds who have been given a ball and told to go play with it

At a time when football is data driven, we are swamped with statistics and drowned by analysis, Luis Enrique summed up his philosophy in two words: "Enjoy football".

His Spain team are like a richly talented bunch of eleven-year olds who have been given a ball and told to go play with it. They are unburdened by complicated tactics and not weighed down by expectation.

Whereas other nations have prepared their players for the past two years and imposed a formula to work with, Spain have just freestyled their way through Euro 2020.

Stars have been born; others have found redemption.

Goalkeeper Unai Simón was a controversial choice and could have been a scapegoat when the ball rolled under his foot in the 20th minute against Croatia. In truth many of us didn't see it as we took our eye off the game, just as the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper did.

We all saw the immense saves later in the game which overshadowed his error. Anyone is capable of making the same mistake as Simón; few can pull off the game-winning feats he managed as the match became fraught.

It's a team of players proving themselves. Alvaro Morata became the target of those who like to boo footballers when he failed to take chances in the early games. He went from perceived villain to national hero when he kept his balance and calm to score the game changing goal in the 100th minute versus the World Cup Finalists.

When Spain won the World Cup and European Championships, they had a team of accomplished players, mainly drawn from Real Madrid and Barcelona. This edition has no Real players and only a couple from Barca.

These players are taking their careers to another level with every game rather than just adding to a list of achievements. Take the other scorers.

Ok, Cesar Azpilicueta had lifted the Champions League trophy, but he'd never scored for his country in a sporadic international career.

Mikel Oyarzabal is a star for Real Sociedad. Now he's stepped up a level.

Ferran Torres is making a name for himself at Manchester City, now he's in the national conscience.

Pablo Sarabia admits he'd booked a holiday for the summer as he wasn't expecting a call from his country. He's proven to be Luis Enrique's key player.

Eighteen-year-old Pedri is at an age where he could still be lending a hand in his dad's Tenerife restaurant in the summer months. Instead he's serving his team-mates and running riot. Literally running. He's covered 47 kilometres so far.

I could go on but would run out of space as Luis Enrique has utilised his full squad in the opening four games. Nobody can second guess him as I doubt that even the manager knows his best team.

It's a team that plays with freedom and innocence. A joy to watch.

The coach's philosophy is uncomplicated: "Don't concern yourself with what you get wrong and what you get right; concern yourself with what you try."

May the fun football continue.