There can be few more confusing teams in international football than Spain.
The most successful run in football history between 2008 and 2012, La Roja exited the World Cup in the group stages in 2014 and the second round in 2018. Now they face 2022 in Qatar with a new generation and a coach full of moxie. Guessing how they will fare is a tricky business, although WhichBookie free tips may well be able to help with that conundrum.
The recent Nations League matches are the perfect illustration of the dichotomy facing analysts and fans. Their first tie against Switzerland was not quite a disaster, but very little went to plan. La Roja looked fragile and exploitable in defence, conceding twice in a 2-1 defeat. Although their goal was an excellent move, Spain struggled to open up a well-drilled Switzerland.
It raised all of the doubts that have plagued this Spain side. They are susceptible to counter-attacks, lacking leadership and short of punch up front. It was part of a pattern of struggles against traditionally more modest opposition. Georgia and Greece made life hard for them in World Cup qualifiers, while their Euro 2020 performance saw them struggle against Sweden and the Swiss again. Only penalties separated them from the latter.
Three days later, the beat one of the most talent rich sides at Qatar. Travelling to Braga knowing they would need a win to progress to the final four of the Nations League, it was Alvaro Morata, Luis Enrique’s personal bet, that scored the winner in the closing minutes.
Spain were by no means brilliant in that match, but they did control the game, carrying out their game plan and ultimately succeeding with their objective. When Luis Enrique’s Spain are on their game, it’s flowing football and fantastic entertainment too.
That characterised the Euros as well. Ultimately against Italy they fell but their performance was worthy of a spot in the final. Against Croatia they struggled at times, however they also put five goals past the World Cup finalists. Since Luis Enrique returned to the position, Spain have also thumped Germany by a five-goal margin.
After the Portugal victory, Luis Enrique tweeted out a spreadsheet showing that Spain were the most successful European nation in the last four tournaments in terms of getting to the final stages of competitions. Often criticised down club lines, Luis Enrique has an iron will to carry out his wishes and not those of the press.
The feeling is in Spain that they can beat anyone – and be beaten by anyone too. Perhaps the most unpredictable side in the competition, there is little doubt that it will be a fun ride for those that strap themselves in. Luis Enrique will go full throttle on his ideas, making as few concessions as possible. No player is irreplaceable and while Luis Enrique might be criticised for many things, cowardice will not be one of them.