First it was a lot of Spain, then it wasn’t, then it was, then it wasn’t, and now we don’t know what to think

Luis Enrique celebrates with the other members of Spain’s coaching staff after a roller coaster ride of a match.
Photo: Getty Images

I used the term “Spain’ing” a lot during Euro 2020, remembering the era before Spain was flooded with medals, where they always squandered every tournament despite the presentation of one of the most talented teams. They may find every way to lose at the time, whether for simple illness, fleeting defense or different refereeing decisions (specifically, the 2002 World Cup).

Lately, since their last triumph in 2012, “Spain’ing” had referred to a goal and a pass without going anywhere, while faster and more direct teams simply flashed them at the counter during their golden generation. he grew old. The outings in the last two tournaments, in Italy and Russia, have reflected this.

When they pulled off their two opening games against Sweden and Poland in this competition, the only thing they wanted was to point once again to that infuriating trend, even if it was basically a new team. of Spain. It was the natural reflection.

But that’s not really the case. While they only managed one goal against Poland and Sweden, it wasn’t as if they were just snakes around the midfield waiting for an off-peak bus. Luis Enrique’s task when he took over the national team was to accelerate them, to aim for them more often, and to say in depth: “Shit here”. That’s what he did with Barcelona, ​​moving them away from their tiki-taka DNA and just getting the ball to Neymar, Suárez and Messi as soon and as often as possible. Which seems pretty obvious if you give them a few seconds to think.

And Spain had done that. They accumulated 28 combined shots in their first two encounters, and while they couldn’t get enough on goal, or almost enough to tighten up, the easy place to point the finger was striker Álvaro Morata. But it wasn’t even fair, since Spain had won tournaments before with just one recognized striker. That’s where the fake nine was invented, basically.

However, when Unai Simón pulled out the velvet rope for the ball to enter his net for the opening goal against Croatia, it felt like classic Spain. If there was a way to fuck him, they would find him, and that was deep in the closet.

Other than that it’s not that Spain, because where old Spain had used it as an excuse to go to the beach, this was just going to beat Croatia. During the match, Spain fired 24 shots at Croatia’s goal, 19 of which came from inside the box. They scored three goals and, accordingly, created 24 chances. Ferran Torres, on his own, created five chances for himself and scored a goal, and he was generally a firestarter to the right of the attack (and this is a guy Man City barely uses). Enrique’s plan was executed.

But it’s still Spain, and the brain block is still in its trembling. Up 3-1 and only needing to blow the air out of everything, Enrique brought only more strikers, leaving a Busquets and Pedri tired on the ground when he had a stop in Rodri and a human brake in Thiago on the bench. Croatia started to reflect in the middle of the midfield and found two goals in eight minutes to send them to extra time, while Enrique and the whole team tried to regain the feeling at their ends.

Once again, this was a time that Spain had to retake. This Spain only needed 13 minutes in extra time to put Croatia on the sword for good, with goals from Morata and Olazábal. And then they saw it come out clean. Morata’s goal, in particular, it was kind of touchy and finished which makes all his other balloons so frustrating.

So Spain is going through the neighborhoods, and it’s always hard to know what they are. Will the team of players be able to transform into totems instantly in front of goal and defensively? Or are they the ones who can turn it on as soon as possible and pump 10 goals into 2 ace games, like they did? The simplest answer is that they are both, so enjoy the show.

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