Luis Enrique responds to suggestions he’s not picking Barcelona players for Spain

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Spain versus Croatia had the potential to be an entertaining contest given what the latter achieved at the 2018 World Cup.

Having fallen only at the final hurdle in Russia, Zlatko Dalic’s men are more than capable of going mixing it with the big fish.

That said, the side taking on La Roja contained just four players of the 11 who started the final against France in Moscow last July.

Most importantly, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic were on the pitch from the off, giving them a fighting chance against the 2010 world champions.

Even with all their key men available, though, Croatia’s talent pool pales in comparison to that at the disposal of Luis Enrique.

The 48-year-old - who replaced interim boss Fernando Hierro following the World Cup - is tasked with rebuilding a squad that has largely disappointed since winning Euro 2012.

His first challenge - the UEFA Nations League - has got off to a promising start in the form of a 2-1 victory over England, followed by a 6-0 thrashing of Croatia.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Enrique by any means.

As if his job wasn’t already one of intense pressure, the former Barcelona manager has been accused of refusing to pick players from his old club.

Surely, a player and coach of his pedigree couldn’t possibly do that though, could he?

Well, Sergio Busquets was the only Barcelona representative to start against England and Croatia.

Take a look.

Spain XI v England

GK: David de Gea
RB: Dani Carvajal
CB: Sergio Ramos
CB: Nacho
LB: Marcos Alonso
DM: Sergio Busquets
CM: Thiago
CM: Saul
RW: Rodrigo
LW: Isco
ST: Iago Aspas

Spain XI v Croatia

GK: David de Gea
RB: Dani Carvajal
CB: Sergio Ramos
CB: Nacho
LB: Jose Gaya
DM: Sergio Busquets
CM: Dani Ceballos
CM: Saul
RW: Marco Asensio
LW: Isco
ST: Iago Aspas


When quizzed on his selection policy after Tuesday night’s result, Enrique took the opportunity to quash any such suggestion.

"I did not know or care," he said, per the Mirror.

"They belong to the Spanish national team, nothing more.

"They are not from one team or another. I only see a shirt, that of the national team.

"The attitude of all the players has been very good.

"It is difficult to criticise anything in a match that saw such a high level of performance. I have nothing to object against, I liked almost everything I saw.”

Enrique was never going to admit to being biased, even if it was true.

However, his future team sheets are to be scrutinised even more closely than usual.

Luis Enrique
Spain Football

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