Spain’s progression to the knockout stage of the 2022 World Cup is almost secure, despite Sunday’s draw with Germany, but is Luis Enrique the best coach in the world?
This may seem like a rather bizarre question. However, these were the exact words used by the Spanish coach to describe himself. Luis Enrique took the chance to advertise his own credentials prior to the Germany clash.
Yet, when you look at his record with both Barcelona and the national team, does he have a point?
Luis Enrique makes case as the best coach in the world
In order to fully judge Luis Enrique as a coach you have to look at his club career.
At Barcelona, he arrived at a club that was struggling for an identity. The days of Pep Guardiola’s style faded, and the game was changing to favor a more physical approach.
He brought a vertical 4-3-3 to the Camp Nou, fully utilizing the attacking talents of Luis Suarez and Neymar. They dovetailed with Lionel Messi superbly. Luis Enrique’s team won the Champions League in his first year in charge.
At international level, the former Barcelona midfielder achieved a similar transitional success. La Roja were at a low point when he arrived, having failed at tournaments with their golden generation virtually broken up. The coach made key decisions. Dropping David de Gea to focus on a keeper more adept with his feet, as well as moving the team to a vertical approach with a target man in Alvaro Morata.
He has also given more opportunities to domestic youngsters, looking to do away with ageing veterans playing away from LaLiga.
Tactically, there are few better minds than Luis Enrique. His teams are attractive to watch. However, they do not often fall short against equal opponents.
However, where the Asturian coach struggles is with his man-management. It doesn’t crop up as much as Spain’s coach due to the sheer lack of time he spends with his squad. That being said, at Barcelona, he rubbed people the wrong way.
By the end of his tenure the Camp Nou was fraught with tension and fans were ready for Luis Enrique to go.
Who is he battling against?
At the moment there are a handful of standout coaches in world soccer. It would be unfair to include club coaches in this comparison, because the job is so different.
Pep Guardiola is the best club coach in the world, albeit he has incredibly favorable conditions in which to work. International coaches are the yardstick when assessing the Spaniard.
Tite, Didier Deschamps and Gareth Southgate are the longer serving members of the fraternity. Meanwhile, Hansi Flick and Louis van Gaal boast great reputations.
Gareth Southgate reached a World Cup semi-final and a European final, but his soccer isn’t as attractive as the Spanish coach’s.
Hansi Flick’s team play excellent, but results as of late place him way below Luis Enrique.
“How can I doubt myself? I am the best coach on the face of the earth,” Luis Enrique explained in a press conference.
“If I have to convince my players I have to be convinced myself… there is no better coach than me. I know it’s not true, but I believe it.”
Luis Enrique was using his words as a motivational tool for his players. Deciding on the best coach in the world is a subjective topic, but he certainly qualifies to be in the conversation, especially with La Roja still alive in the 2022 World Cup.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Sports Press Photo
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