Former Spain manager Luis Enrique has regretted his decision to include a flop in his World Cup squad
Luis Enrique took charge of the Spanish national team in 2018, leading the team to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Spain was knocked out of the 2018 World Cup after a penalty with hosts Russia in the round of 16.
Four years after the catastrophic outing, a similar fate has befallen the Spaniards, this time by a less fancied African side Morocco.
The win turned out to be their only win of the tournament and saving grace that placed them at an advantage over Germany, with the same number of points in the group.
Luis Enrique was winless in his next three matches in the competition. They drew their second group game 1-1 against fellow European giants Germany and settled for a shock defeat to Japan in the last group game.
After finishing second in the group, Spain set up a round-of-16 clash with the Moroccans. Pundits awarded the game to the Spaniards on a platter of gold with the quality in the side – the likes of Pedri, Gavi, and Asensio, to mention a few.
It was a dramatic game. The Atlas Lions gave the Spaniards a run for their money, holding them to a goalless draw and dragging the game to a penalty shootout.
Achraf Hakimi scored the winning penalty as Morocco knocked out Spain to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament.
After the game, Luis Enrique’s contract was not renewed. He was sacked by Spain FA and replaced by Louis De La Fuente – a former U21 head coach of the Spanish team.
Speaking on Iban Llanos Twitch Stream, Luis Enrique reflected on the team’s performance and talked about his best and worst players in the tournament.
The former Barcelona manager talked about a player he will live to regret ever taking to the World Cup. Enrique said he picked one squad member who failed to live up to expectations.
‘One player, but I won’t say the name. One player didn’t end up being what I thought, and I would have changed him for another player,’ Enrique said.
Spain dominated possession against the Moroccans but did not create a clear-cut chance, facing stiff opposition from the Moroccan defense.
When Enrique was asked if he would have gone for alternative options to help retain the team in the tournament, he replied by saying he regrets not playing PSG star Pablo Sarabia more in the tournament.
‘I think Pablo Sarabia deserved more than the five minutes I gave him. Right now, I would have even made him the starter. I’m not one of those who beats himself up, surely we would have lost the same, but in terms of justice, he deserved it,” he said.
While lamenting the team’s shock exit that resulted in his sack from his role as Spain manager, Luis Enrique heaped praises on the rising youngster in the squad – Pedri. He marveled at the development of Pedri, comparing him to the legendary Andrea Iniesta.
‘The one who surprised me the most is Pedri. He’s like Andrea Iniesta… He does magic. He’s insane, I don’t know how to explain it. He surprised me, but at the same time, he didn’t,’ Enrique continued.
Morocco, who eliminated Luis Enrique-led team, went on to reach the semifinals of the tournament after defeating Portugal 1-0 in the quarterfinal.
They will face France in the semifinals, but the Atlas Lions are not Luis Enrique’s preferred team to win the World Cup.
The former Barcelona manager is pitting his tent with Argentina to win the World Cup because of Lionel Messi.
According to him, Lionel Messi has done enough for football to deserve the World Cup trophy.
‘I want Messi to win the World Cup, because of what Messi means to football,’ he said.
Messi scored from a penalty spot and also assisted Julian Alvarez’s goal as Argentina cruised to a 3-0 semifinal win over 2018 finalist – Croatia.
They will now face the winner of the match between France and Morocco in the final of the tournament.