Spain may have flattered to deceive at Euro 2020, but coach Luis Enrique says he is a born optimist and believes “champagne” football is about to flow against Slovakia on Wednesday.
The three-times European champions were unable to break down an ultra-defensive Sweden in a goalless draw in their opening game and could only draw 1-1 with Poland, meaning they have to beat Slovakia to ensure passage to the last 16.
Spain have faced a barrage of criticism from the national media and even been taunted as “horrible” by former Netherlands player Rafael van der Vaart – but Luis Enrique was relaxed and ahead of the Group E game.
“Luis Enrique was born an optimist and will die an optimist,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“I’m 100 percent convinced and I have the sensation that we are like a bottle of champagne about to be uncorked. I’m sure that once we win we’ll see our very best.”
The coach said statistics showed Spain were among teams creating the most chances, but his forwards needed to be more clinical. “I can’t hide the fact other teams are scoring more goals,” he said.
While Spain are third in the group with two points, Slovakia are second on three and would go through with a draw.
“They’ll play defensively, without a doubt, a draw will be good enough for them so I hope we can break the deadlock as soon as possible because it’s going to complicated,” Luis Enrique added.
“Messing up is a possibility but I hope it doesn’t happen.”
Luis Enrique made only one change to his starting lineup from the first match to the second, bringing in Gerard Moreno for Ferran Torres.
But in the 15 minutes of Tuesday’s training session open to the media he played a practice game which hinted at a very different approach against Slovakia, with up to six changes.
The coach gave no hints but it seems likely that captain Sergio Busquets will start, having returned to the squad following a positive COVID-19 test.
Busquets said he had felt “impotence” watching the first game from his Barcelona home and the second from the stands of Seville’s La Cartuja stadium, but shared his coach’s optimism.
“If we qualify from the group we believe in ourselves and think we have a strong team and will be very hard to beat,” he added. “And we even see ourselves getting to the final and winning it.”