Luis Rubiales has been re-elected unopposed as the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Rubiales is set to serve a four-year term, with his return to office a formality after former Spain captain and 2010 World Cup winner Iker Casillas withdrew his candidacy in June.

The 43-year-old took on RFEF's top job in May 2018 after predecessor Angel Maria Villar was sacked amid corruption charges.

He quickly became embroiled in controversy on the eve of the 2018 World Cup, sacking Julen Lopetegui after the Spain coach was announced as Real Madrid boss for the start of the 2018-19 season.

Under caretaker boss Fernando Hierro, Spain limped to a last-16 exit on penalties against hosts Russia.

Rubiales then clashed bitterly with LaLiga chief Javier Tebas over the latter's desire to stage a Spanish top flight game in the United States, while the country's top two football administrators have rarely seen eye to eye.

Luis Enrique says Ansu Fati's self-confidence level is "not normal" after the Barcelona youngster made history in Spain's 4-0 Nations League win over Ukraine.

The teenager brilliantly won the penalty from which Sergio Ramos opened the scoring in Madrid and netted his side's third in fine fashion to give Spain a three-goal advantage before the break.

Fati's strike made him Spain's youngest goalscorer in history aged just 17 years and 311 days and head coach Luis Enrique has no doubt the prodigious talent will stay grounded.

"I'm not scared. I'm sure it won't go to his head, he's very humble," he told a news conference about Fati's first Spain start.

"We're going to know how to manage it. Although I know him, of course he surprised me, that he did that in minute two [won the penalty].

"Sure, he will have bad games, but that self-confidence is not normal to see. Ansu Fati is very happy and has reasons. He is only 17 years old and has to mature, but in his second match with the national team he dares to do all this.

"He brings work and humility. At his age it is easy for it to go to your head, but he is mature enough to know that the path he is following is the best. He is very calm and humble."

Ramos, Spain's record appearance holder, also moved into joint-eighth with fellow Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano on Spain's all-time goalscoring list when he headed in his team's second.

Luis Enrique hopes his experienced captain can continue breaking new ground for years to come.

"I hope he can achieve many more things with the national team. He is a leader, but not only in words, with the example, which is how he leads," he added. 

"He does nothing but add. It is very easy for a coach to have Sergio Ramos." 

Ansu Fati made history on his first start and Sergio Ramos scored twice as Spain coasted to a 4-0 victory over Ukraine in Sunday's Nations League contest in Madrid.

Barcelona star Fati, who made his senior international debut off the bench in Thursday's 1-1 draw with Germany, made it 3-0 in fine fashion prior to half-time at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano to become Spain's youngest goalscorer at 17 years and 311 days old.

Fati had earlier won the penalty from which Ramos opened the scoring and the Real Madrid great doubled the lead at a familiar venue, which is part of Los Blancos' Valdebebas training complex.

Ferran Torres got off the mark for La Roja with a well-controlled finish six minutes from time as Spain moved to four points from two matches to sit top of Group A4.

Fati's quick feet proved too much for Sergey Krivtsov in just the third minute, with Andriy Pyatov unable to stop Ramos' penalty finding the bottom-left corner.

The Barca forward placed an effort just past the right post after tormenting Oleksandr Tymchyk on the left flank and had an overhead-kick blocked by Mykola Matvyenko in a goal-mouth scramble.

Ramos deservedly doubled the lead with a fine looping header from Dani Olmo's cross before Fati brilliantly jinked inside Ihor Kharatin and fired into the bottom-right corner off the post.

Olmo, also making a first international start, drew a smart stop from Pyatov just after the hour, while Gerard Moreno had the ball in the back of the net only to be flagged offside. 

Pyatov again kept the scoreline down with a fine fingertip save from Oscar Rodriguez's dipping effort but could do nothing to prevent new Manchester City winger Torres placing a side-footed volley into the bottom-right corner.


What does it mean? Fati a star who can help Spain reign again

Spain were the dominant force of international football during a golden period that returned two European Championships and the World Cup between 2008 and 2012. In 17-year-old Fati they seemingly have a generational talent who can be the driving force behind a new crop of emerging players.

Ramos matches Di Stefano

Ramos, his country's most-capped player, will forever be regarded as a Spain legend and his double means he now sits joint-eighth in the nation's list of highest goalscorers – level with fellow Los Blancos great Alfredo Di Stefano, after whom Sunday's venue was named.

Fati not feeling the weight of international expectation

This was Fati's first start in international football, but he played with the swagger and quality of a seasoned veteran. Time and again Ukraine's defenders were left quaking by the Barca forward, who fully deserved his historic goal.

What's next?

Spain prepare for their next Nations League assignment with a friendly against Portugal on October 7, while Ukraine host Germany in their third Group A4 encounter.

Ansu Fati became Spain's youngest goalscorer in history with his strike in the first half of Sunday's clash with Ukraine in Madrid.

The brilliant Barcelona forward marked his first international start with a fine effort to make it 3-0 before half-time in the Nations League match being played at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

Aged 17 years and 311 days, Fati became the youngest player to net for Spain.

It was the culmination of a fine opening period for Fati, who also won the penalty for Sergio Ramos to open the scoring, with a looping header from the Real Madrid defender then doubling Spain's lead.

Fati made his senior international debut off the bench in Thursday's 1-1 draw against Germany.

Adama Traore has withdrawn from Spain's squad ahead of their Nations League fixture against Ukraine after testing positive for coronavirus antibodies in his PCR test.

Traore was initially omitted from Spain's 1-1 draw with Germany in Stuttgart on Thursday following an inconclusive COVID-19 test.

The Wolves star underwent PCR testing on Friday and the uncapped 24-year-old – who is still waiting to make his first international appearance – will sit out Sunday's visit of Ukraine.

"On receiving the results of the test, and despite the player showing a high level of antibodies such as a positive IgG count, the RFEF medical services, in accordance with UEFA, have decided to liberate the player from his duties with the national team, even though he poses no risk of spreading the virus to his team-mates," the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said in a statement.

"Under UEFA protocol, it is recommended not to travel to a stadium if the result of a PCR is not totally negative."

Spain welcome Ukraine to the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano in Madrid for the League A Group 4 showdown.

Ukraine top the standings after their 2-1 win over Switzerland last time out.

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara appeared to distance himself from reports of a switch to Liverpool ahead of Spain's Nations League match against Ukraine.

Thiago starred as Bayern completed a treble with a 1-0 Champions League triumph over Paris Saint-Germain last month, but has been persistently linked with a move to the Premier League winners.

Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge even said he expected the 29-year-old to depart, but Thiago said he viewed the club as his "home" after Thursday's 1-1 draw against Germany in Stuttgart.

Speaking at a news conference alongside national team boss Luis Enrique on Saturday, the ex-Barcelona man appeared to tire of a familiar line of enquiry.

"I have never said that I am leaving Bayern," he said. "Every year you [journalists] put me at a different club.

"For me, my future is tomorrow's game and there is nothing more to say.

"I neither care nor am I interested [in the speculation]. What interests me is tomorrow."

Talk over Thiago's future is likely to regain top billing in the gossip columns after Lionel Messi announced, somewhat reluctantly, that he will be staying at Barcelona.

Thiago still retains affection for his boyhood club, who Bayern thumped 8-2 in the quarter-finals of the Champions League to spark weeks of tempestuous fallout at Camp Nou.

"Any decision that is beneficial for the club you support is wonderful for that team, in this case Barcelona," he said.

"We have seen what he has said. I have nothing to evaluate. We have to respect it. I am at another club, so that neither goes nor comes to me [to comment]."

Sergio Busquets remains one of Spain's most important players, head coach Luis Enrique believes.

The 32-year-old, who has made 116 international appearances, has had his worth called into question for club and country after a difficult season with Barcelona.

But Busquets produced a performance close to his assured best as Spain snatched a 1-1 draw in their Nations League opener against Germany in Stuttgart.

Not that he had any need to prove himself to his former Camp Nou boss.

"Busi is a player who does not need to speak much because his presence imposes respect," Luis Enrique said ahead of Sunday's game against Ukraine.

"But he is not here for what he contributes off the field, he is here for what he contributes on the pitch.

"He makes better or worse games, but he is one of most important footballers of the national team."

Thiago Alcantara shone alongside Busquets, completing 97 of 104 passes in the match, and joined Luis Enrique in giving a glowing assessment.

"It's a joy to see how he positions himself, how he manages the team," said Busquets' ex-Barca colleague.

"There is his presence, his game, his numbers for years ... to improve as a midfielder you must pay attention to him."

Busquets is increasingly an outlier in a youthful squad with Spain.

Ferran Torres, Oscar Rodriguez, Mikel Merino and Ansu Fati all made their debuts against Germany, with Barca teenager Fati becoming the second youngest full international in his country's history.

"His performance does not surprise me, because I have seen all his matches at Barca," Luis Enrique said of Fati.

"His tranquillity his maturity and his naturalness have really surprised me. He is a different player, I don't need to explain it to you because you already see him. 

"His involvement in training and his maturity make it very easy for me as a coach."

Adama Traore could join the list of debutants from this international break after being cleared to join up with the Spain squad following his positive coronavirus test.

Nevertheless, Luis Enrique was keen not to be drawn on his plans for the Wolves winger.

"I would like all the players to be very happy, but I will decide the line-up with those who are more prepared," he added.

"It is possible that a few or many will remain in the team. And as for Adama Traore, we will see, but not until two hours before the game will we know the line-up."

Lionel Messi's reluctant decision to remain at Barcelona does not sit easily with his former coach Luis Enrique.

Messi announced on Friday that he would stay at Camp Nou because the financial demands made by the Barca board for a transfer to happen rendered such a prospect "impossible".

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner accused president Josep Maria Bartomeu of going back on his word that Messi would be free to leave if he desired at the end of the 2019-20 season – although a clause in his contract underpinning this sentiment expired while a campaign extended by the coronavirus hiatus was still in progress.

Luis Enrique coached Messi for three seasons between 2014 and 2017, a period that took in Barca's treble-winning 2014-15 efforts.

The 33-year-old made clear his frustration at the club's failure to reach those heights since, certainly as far as the Champions League is concerned, but Luis Enrique would have liked a more cordial resolution.

"I don't know whether to pronounce on Messi... but I'm going to do it," he said at a news conference to preview Spain's Nations League contest with Ukraine.

"I think the clubs are above all people, players and presidents. Barcelona, ​​founded in 1899, is one of the best in the world. They have always won titles.

"It is evident that there has been a wonderful relationship. Leo has made Barca grow exponentially but I would have liked it if a much more friendly agreement had been reached.

"Sooner or later, Messi will stop playing at Barca. Barcelona will continue to win titles without Messi and Messi will continue to be a wonderful footballer."

Luis Enrique was widely reported to have clashed angrily with Messi midway through the 2014-15 season, before a sensational run of form inspired the MSN forward line – completed by Luis Suarez and Neymar – resulted in a stunning clean sweep of major trophies.

Despite working with such greats of the game and now taking charge of his national team, Luis Enrique insists it will not be in his nature to brag about the players he has coach when he retires from the game.

Indeed, it is not Messi or any of his current Spain squad who would top his list when it comes to the favourite players he has led from the dugout.

“I'm not a fetishist at all," Luis Enrique added. "I will say that I have trained a lot of players, better or worse, but that I have tried to make them better. 

"If I had to say one, I would say that I trained Nolito. I had a wonderful time. He left Second Division with me and he's a very funny guy."

Germany forward Timo Werner was left annoyed following his team's last-gasp 1-1 draw against Spain in the Nations League.

Werner had Germany on track for victory in Stuttgart on Thursday, but Jose Gaya snatched a 95th-minute equaliser for Spain in Group 4 of League A.

Chelsea star Werner, who is preparing for his first season at Stamford Bridge after arriving from RB Leipzig, crowned a wonderful team move in the 51st minute.

However, Spain debutant Ferran Torres got to the right byline and Gaya smuggled home a finish from Rodrigo Moreno's header down at the death.

"It's annoying because we put so much into the match, we worked so hard," Werner said post-match.

"After the goal we allowed ourselves to get pegged back a little too much."

The result left Germany still searching for their first Nations League victory after drawing two and losing two in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2018-19.

Germany head coach Joachim Low added: "I am satisfied with what I saw. Our boys gave it their all right to the end.

"It was an intense and hard-fought match – both teams put a lot into the match.

"For me, it was important not to let Spain play and in my opinion we had the better chances. In the second half it was tough to keep the pressure up."

Atalanta star Robin Gosens also made his debut for Germany, setting up Werner's goal, and he told UEFA.com: "It was a very special night, my first cap. Playing in a back three as I am used to from Atalanta makes it easier for me.

"My part is covering the entire left flank and I am pleased with the way we played as a team and the part I played."

Germany forward Timo Werner was left annoyed following his team's last-gasp 1-1 draw against Spain in the Nations League.

Werner had Germany on track for victory in Stuttgart on Thursday, but Jose Gaya snatched a 95th-minute equaliser for Spain in Group 4 of League A.

Chelsea star Werner, who is preparing for his first season at Stamford Bridge after arriving from RB Leipzig, crowned a wonderful team move in the 51st minute.

However, Spain debutant Ferran Torres got to the right byline and Gaya smuggled home a finish from Rodrigo Moreno's header down at the death.

"It's annoying because we put so much into the match, we worked so hard," Werner said post-match.

"After the goal we allowed ourselves to get pegged back a little too much."

The result left Germany still searching for their first Nations League victory after drawing two and losing two in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2018-19.

Germany head coach Joachim Low added: "I am satisfied with what I saw. Our boys gave it their all right to the end.

"It was an intense and hard-fought match – both teams put a lot into the match.

"For me, it was important not to let Spain play and in my opinion we had the better chances. In the second half it was tough to keep the pressure up."

Atalanta star Robin Gosens also made his debut for Germany, setting up Werner's goal, and he told UEFA.com: "It was a very special night, my first cap. Playing in a back three as I am used to from Atalanta makes it easier for me.

"My part is covering the entire left flank and I am pleased with the way we played as a team and the part I played."

Luis Enrique demanded plaudits for David de Gea after the Spain goalkeeper's brilliant display during Thursday's 1-1 Nations League draw against Germany in Stuttgart.

Jose Gaya pounced deep into stoppage time to snatch a point at the Mercedes-Benz Arena after an excellent Timo Werner goal gave the hosts a 51st-minute lead.

But Manchester United goalkeeper De Gea was arguably the key to Luis Enrique's men taking a share of the spoils.

De Gea made sharp first-half saves to thwart Thilo Kehrer, Julian Draxler and Leroy Sane, while he also denied Niklas Sule at close quarters as the game moved towards its conclusion.

A string of errors for United saw the 29-year-old end the 2019-20 season at a low ebb, but Luis Enrique believes De Gea and Spain understudy Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has endured a tough time at Chelsea, have been unfairly singled out for criticism.

"He [De Gea] has played a lot of games like this in England," the Spain boss told reporters afterwards.

"We monitor him exhaustively, but he and Kepa are in the news if they make a mistake. They're used to it.

"With the game he's played we should be saying what a great goalkeeper we have.

"I'll encourage them to not fall apart and it's a position that I demand a lot from.

"But because the press give them such a hard time, I treat them more affectionately.

"They both know that their mistakes are more noticeable than those of other players, but they're used to it."

Barcelona teenager Ansu Fati became the second youngest full international in Spain's history when he came on at half-time.

Mikel Merino and Oscar Rodriguez also won their first caps from the bench, while Ferran Torres completed the whole game on his debut and the Manchester City winger's cross led to Gaya's equaliser.

"Ansu had a resounding debut," Luis Enrique added.

"There are players taking their first steps with the team and they worked well.

"They're going to play a lot more minutes. It's nice to see that people really want it."

Wolves winger Adama Traore is in line to become Luis Enrique's next debutant after he was cleared to play in Sunday's game against Ukraine, having passed medical tests following a positive test for coronavirus.

Thiago Alcantara hinted he has not entirely ruled out staying with Bayern Munich.

The Spain playmaker excelled under Hansi Flick as Bayern won the Champions League to complete a treble in 2019-20.

Thiago, 29, is out of contract next June and has been heavily linked with a switch to Liverpool.

But after a typically imperious showing – he completed 97 of 104 passes – during Spain's last-gasp 1-1 Nations League draw against Germany in Stuttgart, the former Barcelona man seemingly left the door ajar to a stay in Bavaria.

Asked whether there was "no chance" of him remaining at Bayern next season, he replied: "Bayern is my home and I am happy to be there.

"I only think about [Spain's] game against Ukraine. Afterwards we will see."

Since signing from Barcelona in 2013, Thiago has made 235 appearances for Bayern, scoring 31 goals.

Last weekend, Bayern chief executive Karl Heinz-Rummenigge said of Thiago: "It looks like he will leave us. I expect an offer for him in the next few days."

Sergio Ramos was heartened by Spain's fighting spirit and the performances of their young debutants in the dramatic 1-1 draw against Germany in League A, Group 4 of the Nations League.

Timo Werner crowned a wonderful team move early in the second half to put Joachim Low's Germany in front and their lead might have been greater but for a fine showing from Spain goalkeeper David de Gea in Stuttgart on Thursday.

Spain also had their chances, the last of which fell to Jose Gaya – the Valencia full-back who made no mistake after popping up inside the opposition box in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

After witnessing the type of goal the Real Madrid captain has become something of a specialist in for his club, Spain skipper Ramos told reporters: "In the end, hope is the last thing that is lost.

"This is a team with faith, very hungry. The victory would have been unfair for them and we fought to the end.

"The team has shown its face after a great physical demand. We have gone desperately, but with order, with faith and with a hunger to get the draw."

Barcelona teenager Ansu Fati came on at half-time to become Spain's second youngest full international of all time behind Angel Zubieta.

Mikel Merino also won his first cap from the bench, while fellow debutant Ferran Torres completed the full match and his cross led to the equaliser.

"In general, the debutants have been very good," Ramos, Spain's all-time record appearance maker, added.

"They are daring, hungry, eager. They are no longer promises, they are realities – people with heart and hunger, who push us and will be good for us.

"I'm happy for their debuts and that they did not take a defeat."

Jose Gaya snatched a 95th-minute equaliser as Spain escaped Stuttgart with a 1-1 draw against Germany, who are still looking for their first Nations League win.

Joachim Low's side drew two and lost two in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2018-19 but looked to be heading for victory after Timo Werner crowned a wonderful team move in the 51st minute.

Spain were indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea for keeping them in the contest with a string of fine saves and pulled level deep into stoppage time.

Debutant Ferran Torres got to the right byline and Gaya smuggled home a finish from Rodrigo Moreno's header down.

Toni Kroos' impeccable deliveries unsettled Spain early on, with De Gea down sharply to keep out a Thilo Kehrer header at his near post.

It quickly became an impressive outing for the under-fire Manchester United goalkeeper, who denied Julian Draxler before flinging himself brilliantly to his right to turn a rasping Leroy Sane effort over the bar in the 18th minute.

In between those two Germany chances, an elaborate mix-up between Emre Can and De Gea's opposite number Kevin Trapp gave Rodrigo a glorious chance to open the scoring, but Leeds United's new record signing dithered and the goalkeeper got back to scramble clear.

Luis Enrique's side found themselves opened up six minutes into the second half.

Ilkay Gundogan launched a gorgeous cross-field pass to debutant Robin Gosens, romping forward from left wing-back. Sane dummied the Atalanta man's pass and Werner showed slick footwork before dispatching the finish beyond De Gea.

Sane burst clear of the Spain backline with an hour played but wastefully overhit his pass across goal to Werner, who could only fire into the side netting.

Thiago Alcantara, doing much to ensure the visitors controlled large passages of play, thundered a shot just wide from the edge of the box in the 70th minute before the equaliser came from a more unexpected source.

What does it mean? Germany impress without Bayern stars

Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Manuel Neuer and Serge Gnabry were given this international break to recuperate by Low after inspiring Bayern Munich to Champions League glory. The strength of the line-up he was able to put out and the performance they produced spoke volumes of the enviable depth that suggests the four-time world champions can emerge confidently from a tricky couple of years. They might even win a Nations League game soon!

De Gea back on song

De Gea endured a miserable end to the 2019-20 season and those ordeals at club level can be traced back to him losing form for Spain at the 2018 World Cup. He followed his string of first-half saves with another fine stop from Niklas Sule late on, by which point this felt like a restorative performance from a keeper whose place at United will come under threat from Dean Henderson in the coming campaign.

Concern for Sane

Bayern newboy Sane was starting his first competitive match for 13 months since suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage. Understandably, his work was as ragged as it was at times impressive – never more so than the botched pass to Werner, after which he limped gingerly from the action. The winger was all smiles with Low immediately afterwards, so perhaps those in Bavaria can rest easy.

What's next?

Spain host Ukraine on Sunday, when Germany travel to Switzerland.

Joachim Low has confirmed Robin Gosens will make his Germany debut against Spain, while Leroy Sane and Niklas Sule will also start Thursday's Nations League clash.

Gosens has been included in Low's 22-man squad for the games with Spain and Switzerland after impressing for Atalanta last season in Serie A and the Champions League.

With Nico Schulz and Jonas Hector absent, the 26-year-old Gosens will slot straight into the side at left-back for Germany's first outing in 10 months.

Low also confirmed Sule and Sane will be part of the XI after recovering from long-term injuries, with the latter's last start coming in August 2019 for former club Manchester City.

Elsewhere, Kevin Trapp will deputise for Manuel Neuer in goal, with the majority of Bayern Munich's treble-winning squad being given time off after reaching the Champions League final.

"Robin Gosens will definitely be in the starting 11. He's in good form and has played well," Low said at Wednesday's pre-match news conference. 

"Kevin Trapp will be in goal. I'm also planning on starting Leroy Sane and Niklas Sule.

"I'm not sure whether we can make three or five subs. In any case, we have to look at the training rhythm and match fitness of the players. Not everyone can play 90 minutes."

Germany face a tough start to their Nations League campaign with Spain the visitors to the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart on Thursday, followed by a trip to Switzerland.

Despite the awkward timing of the fixtures, Low insisted his players will be well up for the Group A4 match against a Spain side unbeaten in their last 11 matches.

"The players are very motivated and that's very gratifying," he said. "Even if the timing is not ideal, it is good that things are going on again with us. 

"Even if there has been a change of coach in recent times, Spain are still playing at a very high level. 

"They don't play quite the way they used to. They can also cross and have long-distance shooters. They are good pressers and have set the benchmark." 

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