Optimism for 'new Spain' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 10, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 10, 2018

Optimism for 'new Spain'

Enrique-era opens with win at Wembley

"This is the new Spain", hailed the country's top sports daily Marca, after Luis Enrique's new dawn began with an affirming 2-1 win over England at Wembley on Saturday.

Spain dropped to ninth in the FIFA rankings, three places below England, after their World Cup defeat to Russia but there was little doubting the more dominant team in London

The excellent Saul Niguez, who cancelled out Marcus Rashford's opener, was the stand-out performer while Rodrigo Moreno's winner brought a rush of Spanish optimism for the future under their new coach.

"Luis Enrique has started big, with a victory at Wembley," wrote Madrid daily, Diario AS. "A triumph that opens the Nations League and closes the nightmare of the World Cup."

His promise was for evolution not revolution and Spain delivered, combining possession with spontaneity and precision, the type of which was so lacking during their stilted performances in Russia.

"Spain has not lost the touch [and it should not] but aims to be much more versatile," wrote Marca. "The team was more vertical and much more aggressive without the ball. They used high pressure and England suffered."

Luis Enrique's task is not only to tweak but convince the players, and fans, that adjustment is the best way forward. Victories will bring belief. "It is a game that reinforces us in a special way," Spain's new coach said. "Because not every day do you win in a stadium like this."

El Pais attached a wider significance to the contest, circling it as a fork in the road for La Roja. "Few decisions in the recent history of Spanish football have had as much weight as the first game of Luis Enrique," the latter wrote.

Among the innovations was Saul, who "personified the change after being wasted in Russia", according to Marca,.

"Saul showed the injustice of his World Cup ostracism because he was the best," crowed AS. "He was the leader of the team."

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