Madrid (AFP) – Luis Enrique said Wednesday that Spain “must apply ourselves from minute one” as they start their World Cup qualifying with a trio of matches against teams they are expected to beat.
“Bearing in mind that in every World Cup there are teams of a level like ours who don’t qualify, we are going to do our homework and apply ourselves from minute one,” said the Spain coach at a press conference ahead of Thursday’s game at home to Greece in Granada.
“Tomorrow is a day to remember what kind of competition we are starting, what kind of game we are going to play and to be attentive,” Luis Enrique said, insisting his team and fans should forget Spain’s last game, in the Nations League.
“Anyone who thinks that by beating Germany 6-0, we are going to beat Greece by more, has little knowledge of football,” he said.
“Football is full of surprises and trap teams, we are going to try to be better on the pitch,” said Luis Enrique, for whom Greece “do not have any individual who stands out from the rest, but they are a hard-working team and will have the motivation to play against a team like ours”.
After playing Greece, Spain travel to Tbilisi to face Georgia on March 28 and host Kosovo on March 31 in Seville. The group also contains Sweden.
The coach singled out a pair of new recruits, Pedri and Bryan Gil, for praise.
He said that “at the age he is” Pedri, an 18-year-old Barcelona midfielder who has been compared to Andres Iniesta, is “humble, hard-working, intelligent, a good team-mate, what I see here is a high-level player, but we have to let him continue to grow.”
Luis Enrique said 20-year-old Eibar winger Gil “is very mature, very calm, with an energy and a calmness that surprises me.”
The coach also promised to take care of 34-year-old Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, who returned to training on Wednesday.
“I will talk to him, he is free of injuries and depending on his feelings and what I think is best for the team, I will decide, but my plan is to look after all the players,” said the coach.
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