Morata becomes strong in the scoring cooperative of La Roja

Morata celebrates one of his goals against Iceland. / Javier Soriano (Afp)


The striker surpassed the number of goals achieved by Di Stéfano and Sergio Ramos with the national team against Iceland and struck another blow on the table against Qatar

Oscar Bellot

The litany that Spain does not have a nine of guarantees accompanies La Roja since David Villa ended an international tour in which he registered 59 goals in 98 games. Without Guaje, the all-time top scorer for the national team, every time the team has effectiveness problems facing the rival goal, the debate on the need for a reference gunner intensifies. Among those who have suffered the most in their own flesh the fire of criticism appears Álvaro Morata, whose numbers deny his detractors.
Against Icelandthe Juventus striker gave a new blow on the table less than eight months before the World Cup in Qatar, where he has a reserved seat in Luis Enrique's locomotive.

The attacker scored two goals in three minutes in Riazor that knocked down Iceland's morale and raised his status in the list of the matadors who have defended the national team's jacket. Since it debuted more than seven years ago in a match against Belarus corresponding to the qualifying phase for the European Championship in France played at the Nuevo Colombino, the player from Madrid has scored 25 goals in 52 games that place him ahead of Alfredo Di Stéfano and Sergio Ramos within the historical 'top ten' of gunboats of La Roja. Sooner rather than later he should overtake Emilio Butragueño (26), Fernando Morientes (27) and Fernando Hierro (29), the following on a list led by Villa, ahead of Raúl González (44), Fernando Torres (38) and David Silva (35).

Eight of those goals in Morata's account as an international are limited to Luis Enrique's stage as coach, in which he occupies second place both in the classification of top scorers and in that of footballers with the most games played. In both sections he is surpassed by Ferran Torres, with five goals and one more game than the striker on loan from Atlético to Juventus, who made up for his drought in Cornellà in La Coruña.

The fact that he did not score against Albania may have influenced Luis Enrique's decision that Morata be the only one to repeat the starting role in this window of friendlies that has raised spirits with a view to the World Cup, has served to sharpen the competition thinking about the final selection and, above all, it has shown that the fans have been impregnated with the illusion that exists in the locker room to play an outstanding role in Qatar. After all, strikers live off goals and the last two notches on their revolver strengthen Morata within the La Roja scoring cooperative, which has raised its number of members to 25 since Luis Enrique gave orders with the entry of Yéremy Pine against Iceland.

maximum commitment

The coach from Gijón reiterated at the end of that match against the Viking block that Spain does not need a 30-goal striker because he finds a way to vaccinate rivals "in other ways." One of the coach's mantras is that both attack and defense are a collective responsibility. The group is above individualities and there is no place for those who shy away from their part in any of these areas. «The coach always tells us, the forwards are the first defenders and this is very important for the team. It is very difficult to play a full match as a striker or winger in the national team because you have to empty yourself so much that later you are not fresh to reach a goal, ”Morata recalled once his double was completed at Riazor. The commitment of the man from Madrid, with and without the ball, is beyond doubt. That is why he has the approval of Luis Enrique, in the hard and in the mature. "Morata goes out of his way for the team," remarked the Asturian in La Coruña.

After missing the World Cup in Russia due to a bad season at Chelsea that left him off Julen Lopetegui's list, Morata has high hopes for the World Cup to be held between November 21 and December 18 this year . He enjoys the full confidence of the coach and hardly suffers from competition in the number nine position, where Gerard Moreno or Raúl de Tomás can be a good complement. Luis Enrique demands a lot of mobility from his attackers and the forward car for Qatar will include, barring injury, Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres. Pablo Sarabia has been like a shot since he returned to the national team and Yéremy Pino has burst in with force. If Ansu Fati leaves his recurring physical problems behind, Luis Enrique will not hesitate to bring him on board. But only an unexpected turn of events will deprive Morata of fulfilling one of his goals: to be the number nine in Spain at the star event of the year.

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