Luis Enrique insists Spain do not lack leaders in Busquets' absence

By Sports Desk June 13, 2021

Luis Enrique has insisted Spain do not have a lack of leaders in their group in the absence of captain Sergio Busquets.

Barcelona midfielder Busquets will miss Spain's opening Euro 2020 match against Sweden in Seville on Monday after testing positive for coronavirus.

The 32-year-old is one of the key figureheads in La Roja's squad, which is the youngest in the tournament, but Luis Enrique is confident others – including himself – can fill the void.

"We do not lack leadership," he said at a news conference ahead of Spain's Group E opener against Sweden on Monday. 

"The 23 others are going to lead because they are the ones that make the decisions on the pitch. 

"I'm going to lead from the sidelines, too, as all coaches do. If a coach doesn't lead, that's a bad sign.

"But in this national team everyone has to lead on the field. They have to carry this out. Our strength is the group and we are prepared."

Spain have won only one of their last five opening matches at a major tournament, beating the Czech Republic 1-0 at Euro 2016.

La Roja's last game at a tournament was their last-16 defeat to Russia on penalties at the 2018 World Cup, but Luis Enrique is optimistic of success at Euro 2020. 

"I'm not worried – we are ready," he said. "Until the contrary is proven, I'll continue to think we can compete at the highest level.

"What I'm telling you is not a lie; I really believe it. I'm still confident.

"Our match plan will always be the same. We have clear objectives in attack, to generate as many chances as possible and to dominate the rival.

"When defending we must press as high as possible to win the ball back. I hope that come tomorrow night we can find a good rhythm and maintain our levels."

Sweden are taking part in their seventh European Championship finals and enter the tournament on a five-match winning run that has seen them keep four clean sheets.

Luis Enrique is expecting a tough opening test at Estadio Olimpico de la Cartuja before meetings with Slovakia and Poland.

"Sweden are a team that play direct. They have strong, quality players, even if they are going to be without Dejan Kulusevski," the Spain head coach said.

"We are going to try to focus on our strongest areas.

"The first game helps set the pulse for the competition. It is not easy for many reasons, but we are hopeful we can be at our best."

There are question marks over who will start in goal for Spain, though Luis Enrique is not giving anything away in terms of team selection on the eve of the match.

"David de Gea, Robert Sanchez or Unai Simon – one of those will play," he said.

Monday's meeting will be the fourth between the two sides at a major tournament, with Spain winning twice – most recently at Euro 2008 – and Sweden winning the other.

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