La Roja focuses on recurrent defects

Eric García bids with the Czech Jakub Pesek. / Michal Cizek / AFP


The Spanish team continues to get stuck against ultra-defensive rivals and suffers worrying imbalances at the back that condemn it in close matches

Oscar Bellot

OSCAR BELLOT Special envoy to Prague

The Spanish team traveled from Prague to Geneva with a long list of tasks to resolve. Luis Enrique's team rescued a draw against the Czech Republic at the last minute in a game in which the Asturian coach's block had recurrent defects that he has not overcome. Above the result, which keeps it with all the options open within this League of Nations, two points behind the Central European team and Portugal, co-leaders of the group after the Portuguese thrashed Switzerland (4-0) with a double of Cristiano Ronaldo, the most worrying aspect of the match played at the Sinobo Stadium was that it served to fuel the doubts that La Roja has been transmitting against ultra-defensive rivals who are capable of doing damage with very little.

The national team reached the break of the clash held at the Slavia stadium in Prague with 73% possession, which barely translated into three shots, although only one of them was on target, which meant the goal of a Gavi who once again demonstrated an extraordinary ability to pull the cart at 17 years old. In the second half, he raised his shot count to a total of twelve, four times more than those made by the Czechs, maintaining his percentage in terms of control of the ball and tripling the number of attacks by his opponent in the calculation of the duel . But three fleeting incursions by the Central Europeans were enough to sign the tables. Two ended up at the bottom of Unai Simón's goal. The other was lost by Kutcha crossing the hit too much when he was hand in hand with the Athletic goalkeeper.

«We have found a crooked game from the beginning. The first play generated a corner and the first part has been a continuous suffering to be able to overcome their first line of pressure. It wasn't something that was going to surprise us because we knew how complicated it is to play these kinds of games away from home. The result is what it is, I don't think we deserved to lose. We have thrown and a couple of sticks, but we have not generated the usual, "acknowledged Luis Enrique, who alluded to the disposition so withdrawn of the Czechs and their aggressiveness as determining factors for the traffic jam of their pupils.

It is true that in today's football there are almost no small opponents and it should be remembered that precisely one of the purposes with which the League of Nations was born was to challenge teams of a similar size. But it is no less so that Spain has serious problems in deciphering the enigma posed by the opponents who defend with the low block. Combines with fluidity, but transits little through poisonous areas. They lack figures capable of filtering passes like Iniesta or David Silva used to do. Pedri is the closest thing to that profile that Luis Enrique has, but the Canarian has not attended this window due to injury and La Roja resents his absence.

One way to get rid of this type of opponent can be hitting from outside the area. And that is where Asensio can come in handy for the Spanish team. The entry of the Real Madrid footballer improved the tone of Luis Enrique's troops because he provided them with a threat that he had not had until then. The Balearic's first shot went to the woodwork and he also assisted Iñigo Martínez in the goal that sealed the final draw. "He has done well," Luis Enrique agreed about one of the soccer players who plays the most in these June appointments with a view to the Qatar World Cup.

Eric Garcia, in the spotlight

However, it was the mismatches in the defense that condemned Spain in Prague. And that is where the focus should be. Luis Enrique has shown his chest in the last week of the good defensive work of La Roja, but that gear failed against the Czech Republic. In the first goal of the locals it was Carvajal who was portrayed by throwing the line wrong and disrupting the offside. On the second target, Eric García was revealed, who had not finished well in the action that Kutcha wasted shortly before.

The presence of the Barça center-back in the national team is one of Luis Enrique's most debatable decisions. He lacks forcefulness and physicality to withstand the close-quarters with the forwards, and he suffers some concentration errors, but the coach will not get off the car. Of course, all the blame for what happened at the Sinobo Stadium cannot be blamed on him because, as the Spaniard remembers, defending is everyone's responsibility, but it does not convey the reliability of Albiol or Nacho, two more expeditious defenders whom Luis Enrique has sidelined because they conform less to his commandments.

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