Luis Enrique’s belligerent self-belief has led Spain to the semi-finals of Euro 2020, however the former Barcelona boss has one other private rating to settle in Tuesday’s final 4 towards Italy.
His enjoying profession at main tournaments is greatest remembered for the vicious elbow from Mauro Tassotti that left blood flowing from his burst nostril over his white Spain shirt on the 1994 World Cup.
Tassotti escaped with out punishment on the time – Spain denied a stoppage time penalty and the prospect to take the sport to extra-time because the Azzurri ran out 2-1 winners.
The Italy defender was subsequently banned for eight video games by FIFA, however the injury was already performed for Spain as they exited on the quarter-finals.
That was a well-known story for Spanish soccer on the time as generations of proficient gamers got here and went with out leaving a hint at main competitions.
All that modified in 2008 as a final eight win over Italy on penalties opened the door for Luis Aragones’s facet to win the European Championship.
Vicente del Bosque then took over to win the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
However by the point Luis Enrique bought the decision, Spain had fallen quickly from grace.
Within the earlier three main tournaments, they did not even attain the quarter-finals because the era of a wonderful period grew previous collectively.
Luis Enrique’s contentious name to go away out former captain Sergio Ramos for Euro 2020 broke the final remaining hyperlink to the 2008 staff.
With out Ramos, or some other Actual Madrid participant for the primary time in Spain’s historical past at a significant event, the Madrid press cried foul, claiming La Furia Roja would lack management.
“I’m one of many leaders, like all coaches,” stated Luis Enrique in response. “If that’s not the case, it’s a dangerous sign.”
– Massive calls come good –
It has not been a completely clean experience. A case of coronavirus for Sergio Busquets within the days earlier than the event started meant the coach’s determination to not take his full complement of 26 gamers was additional questioned.
Spain have additionally solely received certainly one of their 5 video games in 90 minutes.
But, numerous Luis Enrique’s greatest calls have come by way of for him when it mattered most.
Alvaro Morata needed to take heed to his personal followers chant “how dangerous are you” in a pre-tournament pleasant towards Portugal.
After a bunch of missed possibilities, together with a penalty, within the group phases, the Juventus striker produced a shocking end in extra-time to show the final 16 tie towards Croatia again in his facet’s favour.
Unai Simon’s comical personal aim in that recreation to open the scoring when he failed to manage a easy again move from Pedri reopened the controversy over who ought to be Spain’s primary.
However the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper made two penalty saves within the shootout win over Switzerland within the quarter-finals.
Nationalised simply weeks earlier than Euro 2020 kicked off, centre-back Aymeric Laporte has made very important contributions in each containers as has Cesar Azpilicueta on his worldwide recall after three years.
Additional ahead, Paris Saint-Germain winger Pablo Sarabia has greater than justified his shock place within the squad with targets towards Slovakia and Croatia, whereas Ferran Torres, Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal have all made telling contributions when launched as substitutes.
“I at all times stated we had been one of many eight candidates to win the European Championship and now we’re among the many 4 greatest,” stated Luis Enrique.
“It could be ridiculous to be within the semi-finals and never take into consideration taking one step extra. That is the target.”
A well-recognized foe stands in his approach at Wembley, however win or lose, Luis Enrique will do it his personal approach.