Luis Enrique: “After nine years of crossing the desert, Spain have returned”

La Roja faced Italy at Wembley Stadium in London on Tuesday evening for a place in the final of Euro 2020, losing 4-2 on penalties after drawing 1-1 after extra-time.

The first half was tightly contested, with Spain seeing the majority of the ball but failing to put the Italians to the sword. The performance of 18-year-old Pedri, at the heart of the Spanish midfield, had everyone watching swooning.

It was the Italians, however, that took a potentially decisive lead on the hour mark. They broke ruthlessly in a counter-attack instigated by the excellent Gianluigi Donnarumma and finished artfully by Federico Chiesa.

 

Spain got back on level terms heading into the final ten minutes; Alvaro Morata, much maligned this summer, finished superbly after being played in by Dani Olmo.

Morata went from hero to villain in the penalty shootout, however, missing a decisive penalty for Spain that enabled Jorginho to convert the winning kick with composure. Roberto Mancini’s men will face either England or Denmark in the final.

“We played a great European Championship,” Luis Enrique said post-match in comments carried by Diario AS. “After nine years of crossing the desert, Spain have returned.

 

“We’ve given the team a round of applause because they’ve done an incredible job. I thanked Morata and gave him a hug; he enabled us to dream. They were eager to get to penalties and we wanted to play a half-hour longer.

“I have to be proud of what I’ve seen. Everyone has been superb, even those who’ve played little. They’ve added, the selection has grown. We wanted to build a team that the fans would be proud of and we succeeded. When you do this, you have to know how to win and lose; you don’t cry, you get up.

“Has anyone seen what Pedri, an 18-year-old boy, has done? I haven’t seen anyone like that, not even [Andres] Iniesta.”

Tags La Roja Luis Enrique