Buoyant Spain take aim at England

Spain coach Luis Enrique has won all three of his games since taking charge after the World Cup.
Spain coach Luis Enrique has won all three of his games since taking charge after the World Cup.PHOTO: AFP

CARDIFF • Spain coach Luis Enrique was delighted at the level of competition within his squad and even joked that reporters would never be able to guess his starting line-up for Monday's Uefa Nations League clash with England.

Speaking after the 4-1 friendly rout of Wales on Thursday, the Spaniard said: "I love the competition. It means we can bring in four or five players and they still have a very high level. It's difficult for me, but positive.

"They are good players with a lot of hunger.

"Yes, there are clues (for the England game) in those who have not played, but you won't be able to guess more than four or five."

Paco Alcacer was one who made his case for a regular place, as the on-loan Borussia Dortmund forward struck twice in the victory.

With Diego Costa injured and Rodrigo on the bench, Alcacer seized his chance to impress Enrique in his first international appearance since March 2016.

The 25-year-old netted twice in the first half at the Principality Stadium to make it eight goals in 14 Spain appearances, while Sergio Ramos and Marc Bartra were also on target for the visitors.

 
 
 

Alcacer has scored seven goals in four matches for Dortmund since joining on loan from Barcelona, where he was rarely picked by Enrique during his time in charge at the Nou Camp.

The former Barcelona coach has also won all three of his games since taking charge after the World Cup and this success was ideal preparation for Spain before they continue their Nations League campaign against England in Seville, after a 6-0 thrashing of Croatia last month.

Wales were without an injured Gareth Bale and the Real Madrid forward's absence rendered them toothless.

Burnley's Sam Vokes got a late consolation for Wales, who have lost three in six matches since Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs took over as manager.

"The disappointment for me was in the basics. If you don't do the basics against a very good team, you're in trouble," Giggs said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2018, with the headline 'Buoyant Spain take aim at England'. Print Edition | Subscribe