Spain coach Luis Enrique believes his team’s mix of youth and experience can make them contenders at the World Cup in Qatar.
”After a period of doubts and questions, now we have a group of young players and a few veterans that can face any rival,” Luis Enrique told a news conference on Friday ahead of their friendly against Albania at Espanyol’s Cornella-El Prat stadium in Barcelona.
”I see my team as one that can reach the World Cup final stages. We aspire to compete and to be a tough opponent.”
Spain will play in Barcelona for the first time in 18 years, a city where Luis Enrique enjoyed success as a player and later as a coach, winning a Champions League, LaLiga and Spanish Cup treble for Barca in 2015.
”I hope that it will be a big party and the fans enjoy it,” the coach said ahead of Saturday’s match.
”It’s my house and we haven’t been here for many years. We face it with great enthusiasm… I know that people will respond and the field will be sold-out.”
Luis Enrique also commented on Italy’s shock 1-0 home defeat against North Macedonia on Thursday that ensured that the four-time world champions would not qualify for the World Cup finals for the second consecutive edition.
Spain qualified for the tournament in Qatar by beating stubborn visitors Sweden 1-0 in a tense clash in November to avoid the playoffs.
”If you don’t do your homework you go to the playoffs and that can lead you to extreme situations,” Luis Enrique said.
”There will be times when we won’t make it. It has happened to Italy, who are the current European champions. But we made the cut and that’s what matters to us.”
Luis Enrique also explained why he is yet to renew his contract with Spain, which expires at the end of the World Cup in December.
”What happens if I renew and go to the World Cup and mess it up? If it goes wrong, I’ll go by myself. My future does not interest anyone, I live in the present.”