Luis Enrique calls for hot atmosphere at La Cartuja for La Roja v Sweden: “It has to be like hell”

Pablo Sarabia’s first-half penalty proved enough to ensure La Roja took all three points against Greece in Athens on Thursday night. Luis Enrique’s side won 1-0 to end the day top of Group B of World Cup Qualifying, leapfrogging Sweden.

Spain will now face Sweden on Sunday night at La Cartuja in Sevilla, in a winner-takes-all fixture. What’s changed following tonight’s results, however, is that Spain only need to draw to top the group and secure automatic qualification for Qatar 2022. Sweden lost 2-0 to Georgia earlier in the evening.

As for the game itself, it was Greece who actually had the ball in the net first. Giorgos Masouras thought he’d fired his country into a 21st-minute lead after coolly beating Unai Simon, only for the linesman to raise his flag and rule it offside.

The tie’s decisive moment came just four minutes later. Inigo Martinez was fouled in the box and Sarabia, on loan at Sporting Lisbon from Paris Saint-Germain, stepped up to take it. He made no mistake, going left and sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Victory was nothing less than Spain deserved. They controlled 72.6% of the possession and recorded a passing accuracy of 92%, making sure to press high and win the ball back as quickly as possible whenever they lost it. Greece threatened on occasion, but ultimately played with a disappointing lack of ambition. For La Roja, thoughts have now turned to Sweden on Sunday.

“Of course I think we’re going to take a place in the World Cup on Sunday,” Luis Enrique said post-match in comments carried by Marca. “I already believed it when we were second.

 

“We’re going to play against a good rival who in theory are going to attack more, but we’re going to go for victory, not a draw. Long live the pressure. On Sunday we’ll go out to win. We’ll play the same, pressing and attacking.

“Today I’m happy. Happy for everyone. But there is no room for relaxation. In situations like this, victories are good. We were focused on our game and it was difficult. We deserved the victory and the team have been good. It was a controlled game. They had hardly any chances. We neutralised their attack. But we didn’t make the most of the few chances we had, and the start of the second half was a little imprecise.”

Luis Enrique confirmed that Gavi, who came off mid-way through the second half after a blow to the face, was fine. “He’s a beast, a strong dude,” he said. “The blow isn’t worrisome, he’s fine. This team has overcome many difficulties and now we’re going to have the backing of our people. La Cartuja will be different from the Eurocopa. It has to be like hell, so we can fly.”

Tags La Roja Luis Enrique