Football: doubts hover over Spain ahead of do-or-die match against Slovakia, Sports News


Spain are preparing for a test of courage in their final group game against Slovakia on Wednesday, with Luis Enrique’s side needing the win to secure their place in the round of 16.

After leaving out Sergio Ramos, Luis Enrique allowed himself to be asked about the lack of leadership of his young team.

A strong start against Sweden failed in the second half as a missed penalty against Poland turned a decent display into one crippled by anxiety and tension.

“This country has won the Euro and the World Cup, but in this team there are a lot of young people,” Cesar Azpilicueta said on Monday.

“There are several captains on our team, we know how to act and everyone is going to give their all on Wednesday.”

Captain Sergio Busquets is expected to return after joining the squad on Friday following his negative Covid-19 test. Busquets hasn’t made any of Spain’s opening two matches.

“He’s an important player, with his experience on and off the pitch,” Azpilicueta said. “He’s an incredible captain and we know the dominance he can bring to the midfield. We’re very happy he’s back.”

Azpilicueta has said Spain can learn from Chelsea’s Champions League triumph last season.

He won Chelsea’s second European Cup after the team shifted gears under new coach Thomas Tuchel, a superb finish culminating in a surprise victory over Manchester City in the final.

– Not on ‘how do you start’ –

Spain are basing their hopes on a similar transformation after two disappointing draws against Sweden and Poland, which means they are currently in third place, one point behind Slovakia and two behind Sweden in Group E.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you end,” Azpilicueta said.

“I saw him this year in the Champions League. Before January we weren’t very good, and after that we did very well.

“A lot of people left us for dead last season, they thought we were out of the Champions League, out of the race for the top four. People push you aside but you never give up.”

Despite his excellent form for Chelsea, Azpilicueta was rarely favored by Luis Enrique and started on the bench for Spain’s first two games.

“We are all fighting for places,” he said. “At the moment, we don’t know anything about the next composition.”

Azpilicueta’s experience could be a valuable addition to a young Spanish side, who now find themselves under pressure to come out of what appeared to be a single squad.

“We are not in the situation we expected,” Azpilicueta said. “We would have liked to be more comfortable but football rarely gives you what you expect. We are alive and we depend on ourselves.

“We have to be humble, self-critical and correct what we are doing wrong and also assess what we are doing right. It is a combination of the two. It is an all or nothing game so we have to approach it with the confidence that we are doing. are going to cross.

“The situation is not what we hoped it would be, but you can’t just say, ‘We didn’t win the first two games, we came out. ”

“You have to fight to the end and shoot all in the same direction. Now we have a clear goal and it is important that we have the right mindset because Wednesday is do or die, we have to approach it like that. . “

Luis Enrique could make some changes, with Azpilicueta, Thiago Alcantara and Mikel Oyarzabal among those claiming to enter.


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