Spain began Euro 2020 with a frustrating 0-0 draw against Sweden as their lack of cutting edge in attack was borne out.

Luis Enrique's side enjoyed long spells of possession - a staggering 85% - and had the best of the chances, in the Group E encounter in Seville, but could not find a winner.

Alvaro Morata was guilty of squandering Spain's best opportunity when he fired wide with just Robin Olsen to beat.

An obdurate Sweden side executed their tactical plan to stifle Spain superbly and did threaten at the other end with Alexander Isak hitting the post.

Spain initially looked to open the game from wide areas as they clocked up the passes with Sweden completing just two passes in the opposition half inside the opening 20 minutes.

A teasing cross from Koke brought Spain their first real chance as he picked out Dani Olmo only for a superb diving one-handed save from Olsen to keep out his close-range header.

Koke whistled a shot just past the post with an angled effort struck with the outside of his boot, but should have done better on the half hour when he lifted a shot over the bar from a good position.

A mistake by Marcus Danielson let Morata burst through on goal, but with Olsen rushing off his line the striker curled his shot wide while Olmo went close again from long range.

Sweden flickered into life moments before half-time when a rare foray forward saw Isak's shot bounce off the knee of Marcos Llorente and strike the post.

Spain's play lacked intensity in the second half and some trickery by the impressive Isak created a golden opportunity for Marcus Berg on the hour, but he fluffed his shot from close range.

Olmo saw a shot blocked by Danielson, but Spain were unable to rediscover their tempo and failed to really test Olsen as the game meandered to a stalemate.

Gerard Moreno could have won it with a header from fellow substitute Pablo Sarabia's clever cross inside the six-yard box, but Olsen saved instinctively with his legs. 

Then at the death Sarabia failed to get a clean touch on a dangerous ball into the box with the goal at his mercy. 

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.

Thiago Alcantara says a Spain squad mixing youth and experience are desperate for Euro 2020 to begin after disrupted preparations for the tournament.

Luis Enrique's side get their campaign underway on Monday when they take on Sweden at La Cartuja in Seville.

Their planning for finals was thrown into disarray when Sergio Busquets tested positive for coronavirus last week, which forced the senior squad into isolation amid fears of an outbreak.

Diego Llorente returned test results later confirmed to be a false positive, while the Under-21 squad were used for the friendly match with Lithuania on Tuesday.

The senior players are due to be given COVID-19 vaccination jabs on Friday and no further positive cases have been identified, meaning Luis Enrique should have a strong group available for selection against Sweden.

Liverpool midfielder Thiago accepts the build-up has been far from ideal but is now eager to get the tournament underway.

He told Marca: "Football has changed. Beyond talent, it will be the teams who are best prepared who will compete. We're talking about the best players in Europe at the best tournament.

"We've gotten used to playing under pressure. We're a very young team but used to that level of competition. The youngsters give us veterans a hunger to compete.

"There's another very important thing: we're very invested in what the coach asks of us. That comes from a long time ago, not from now. We're a hard-working team and we're hungry.

"I know [Luis Enrique] from the Barca youth system. He has very clear ideas. He loves the pressure after losing, possession... and winning, which is what we all want.

"The good thing about Luis is that he is always the same. He's no different depending on who he talks to."

Thiago insisted the Spain players coped well with the news of Busquets and that they are far more used to such situations than in the early stages of the pandemic.

"We're used to this situation. It's been a year and a half of living with COVID. We've been accustomed to training individually or collectively, but always with the objective of competing," he said.

"Fear was experienced in the first stage of the pandemic. It was an uncertainty on a global level. We didn't know what was going to happen.

"I was in Germany with my family and yes, there was that feeling of fear. Not here. We have great professionals around us and we comply with all the protocols they ask us to follow."

Spain boss Luis Enrique has assured captain Sergio Busquets he has a major role to play at Euro 2020 once he returns from a COVID-19 absence.

The Barcelona midfielder is said to be well in himself and able to train in isolation despite testing positive for the virus last week.

Busquets will miss Spain's opening game against Sweden in Seville on Monday; however, he may be available for the second group game on June 19, when Poland are the opposition, and there is no prospect of him being cut from Spain's squad.

"I'm going to wait for him. We are all going to wait for him," Luis Enrique said in a news conference on Thursday.

"There is plenty of time for him to come back. He will be certainly on the list.

"What Busquets brings is something impressive as an offensive and defensive midfielder. He is the captain of the national team and one of the team's leaders.

"He benefits from the fact that he was infected so early. We will study each case individually."

Luis Enrique is looking for positives and working on the assumption that Busquets will be available for the rest of Spain's campaign once he has returned to camp.

Amid questions over whether the squad might be vaccinated before their campaign gets under way, Luis Enrique says it would be important to establish certainty around that prospect, particularly given side-effects are so common following jabs.

"As a coach it is something that we are considering. I would like that if it happens, we get vaccinated right now because it would make me angry to be left without a player for it," the Spain head coach added.

"To this day we have no guarantees that the team will be vaccinated.

"On a personal level it is not pleasant to be waiting for a PCR result. We make the players wake up very early so the results arrive as soon as possible. The waiting is not a pleasant situation, but I have experienced much worse."

Luis Enrique had five months away from duties with Spain in 2019, enduring family tragedy in that time as his daughter Xana died from bone cancer.

The COVID-19 situation pales against that personal trauma for the former Barcelona and Real Madrid star, who said: "For me this is child's play compared to some things that I have had to experience."

At the same time, he recognises that on a professional level the pandemic could be disruptive to La Roja over the coming weeks.

"The virus is uncontrollable and despite respecting and enforcing the protocols it sometimes appears. We are not looking for culprits, but solutions," Luis Enrique added.

"I still think without any doubt that Spain are one of the favourites to win the European Championship. We are in that group of six to seven teams that are candidates for the title."

Spain have confirmed no more players nor coaching staff have tested positive for coronavirus after a recent outbreak in their camp.

Defender Diego Llorente tested positive on Tuesday and was put into isolation, two days after Sergio Busquets was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Spain suspended all training activity and fielded their Under-21s for Tuesday's final pre-Euro 2020 friendly with Lithuania, which they won 4-0 in Leganes.

Luis Enrique has created a parallel training bubble made up of standby players, including Rodrigo Moreno, Pablo Fornals, Carlos Soler, Brais Mendez, Raul Albiol, Kepa Arrizabalaga and 11 of their Under-21s squad.

There had been fears the virus could spiral out of control, but all other members of the squad and coaching staff – plus those in the parallel bubble – returned negative tests on Wednesday.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed the news in a statement on its official website, with further tests to be conducted in the coming days.

Spain begin their Euro 2020 campaign against Sweden in Seville next Monday, before facing Poland and Slovakia in their other two Group E fixtures.

Spain have retained 11 of their Under-21 players who featured against Lithuania on Tuesday, with Luis Enrique's Euro 2020 squad having been hit by coronavirus cases.

La Roja's preparations for the tournament were hit by Sergio Busquets' positive coronavirus test on Sunday, with the entire team forced into isolation.

Tuesday's friendly against Lithuania also had to be re-arranged, with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) promoting their entire Under-21s side, though La Rojita took their opportunity to impress.

Hugo Guillamon, Brahim Diaz, Juan Miranda and Javi Puado scored in a 4-0 win, but it was confirmed after the match that another member of the senior squad – Leeds United centre-back Diego Llorente – had tested positive for COVID-19.

Luis Enrique had already created a parallel training bubble with standby players, including Rodrigo Moreno, Pablo Fornals, Carlos Soler, Brais Mendez, Raul Albiol and Kepa Arrizabalaga.

With Spain starting their campaign against Sweden on Monday, 11 of the players who played against Lithuania have now been added to the separate training bubble.

Alvaro Fernandez, Oscar Mingueza, Marc Cucurella, Miranda, Gonzalo Villar, Alejandro Pozo, Diaz, Martin Zubimendi, Yeremy Pino, Puado and Bryan Gil – the only player to feature on Tuesday having represented the senior side in the past – are the youngsters selected by Luis Enrique, who only named 24 players in his initial squad.

Luis Enrique issued a strong defence of Alvaro Morata after a 0-0 draw with Portugal that saw debutant Aymeric Laporte impress the Spain boss ahead of Euro 2020.

The 2012 winners were unable to find a way through against the reigning champions as the two neighbouring nations met in a friendly fixture as part of their preparations for this year's tournament.

However, Spain saw Morata fail to convert a glorious late chance at the Wanda Metropolitano, his attempt when clean through hitting the crossbar.

It was one of four shots by the striker during proceedings, of which only one ended up on target. Still, he did make two key passes and, despite the crowd getting on his case following the miss, his head coach was more than happy with what he saw.

"I am not worried about it," Luis Enrique said when asked about the 28-year-old.

"The last play saw Morata kill himself to pressure. He has been a constant nuisance for the Portuguese, doing an incredible job, and in the 90th minute he is able to make a 40-metre action, fool the goalkeeper and then has bad luck when hitting the crossbar. 

"I think that's something to be applauded. I have seen him very well in terms of his morale, he is already used to it [the criticism]."

There were also whistles at full-time after the hosts failed to capitalise on their dominance. Spain had 65.7 per cent of possession which led to 10 attempts, albeit Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio only had to make two saves.

"I haven't seen anyone whistle at me. I do not care. Yes, it bothers me that it is done to the players," a defiant Luis Enrique said.

"Everyone can do what they want, but I just found out now. I understand my role, I know what it means to be a public figure.

"But people praise me and even blow me kisses, so I feel loved and in Madrid I am delighted."

Laporte was clearly one of the positives to come out of the fixture for Spain, the Manchester City defender combining with fellow centre-back Pau Torres to keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet.

After Portugal had just one on-target attempt during the contest, Luis Enrique said: "I have seen it as expected, very good. It is not common and normal to have two left-sided central defenders, but I have played many years with right central defenders and it does not surprise anyone.

"It is difficult to find two left-sided central defenders of this quality. They have been exceptional, dominating in the air, in passing the ball, putting pressure on the Portuguese forwards. They were outstanding."

Sergio Ramos accepts his omission from Spain's Euro 2020 squad is for the best as he prepares for a close season of "rest".

Real Madrid captain Ramos, Spain's most-capped player with 180, was the standout absentee when Luis Enrique named a 24-man party for the tournament, which begins next month.

The 35-year-old struggled with injury problems throughout 2020-21 and was restricted to 21 appearances for Madrid across all competitions, with only one of those coming since the end of March

Nevertheless, Luis Enrique's decision not to select Ramos caused surprise on Monday, particularly as he did not fill the full allocation of 26 players allowed in expanded Euro 2020 squads, nor find a spot for any other Real Madrid players.

But while there was a degree of shock, especially from Madrid fans, Ramos concedes it was probably the best decision for everyone.

"After a tough few months and a strange season unlike anything I have experienced in my career comes the Euros," he wrote on his official Twitter account.

"I have fought and worked every day, in body and soul, to be able to reach 100 per cent for Real Madrid and the national team but things don't always work out the way we'd like.

"It pains me not to have been able to help my team more and not to play for Spain but, in this case, the best thing to do is rest, fully recover and come back next year like we've always done. It hurts not to represent your country, but I have to be honest and sincere.

"I wish all my teammates the very best of luck and I hope we have a great Euros. I'll be another fan cheering on from home. A big shout to everyone and 'Viva Espana', and 'Hala Madrid' always!"

Either way, Luis Enrique's decision looks set to come under significant scrutiny for a while.

The former Barcelona coach explained Ramos "has not been able to compete since January in the right condition, or even train with group", meaning he could not be included.

Yet, the Madrid defender has actually played more club minutes in that time (395) than Eric Garcia (360) – who in this squad – though the latter was left out of the Manchester City team due to Pep Guardiola preferring alternative options, rather than a patchy fitness record.

By the closing round of LaLiga fixtures on Saturday, which Ramos watched from the bench as Madrid lost their title, the 35-year-old had been absent for significantly more matches (31) for the side this season than he had played (21).

Those 21 games and 1,790 minutes are by far the fewest Ramos has played across a season since joining Madrid in 2005, undercutting the previous low marks of 33 and 2,843 in 2015-16.

Ramos was still able to play his part in seven clean sheets, more than the six Madrid managed with their captain on the field in 2016-17 when he appeared 44 times.

Ramos seemingly plans to keep going on the international stage and with good reason – he is just four caps behind the all-time international caps record in world football, which is held by Egypt great Ahmed Hassan.

Nevertheless, Ramos does have competition from Kuwait's Bade Al-Mutawa, whose last cap in March put him on 181.

Sergio Ramos has been left out of the Spain squad in perhaps the biggest coaching call heading into Euro 2020.

There have been returns for big names elsewhere – Karim Benzema for France, and Thomas Muller with Germany – but Luis Enrique has not selected his captain.

"Any decision I made about Sergio Ramos would have been controversial," the coach acknowledged. "I know where I am and accept there will be media noise."

But was it the right decision? We break down the Opta data to look at the reasons Ramos did not make the cut.
 

MAIN MAN MISSING FOR MADRID

Luis Enrique explained Ramos "has not been able to compete since January in the right condition, or even train with group", meaning he could not be included.

The Madrid defender has actually played more club minutes in that time (395) than Eric Garcia (360) – who was selected – but the latter was left out of the Manchester City team due to Pep Guardiola preferring alternative options, rather than a patchy fitness record.

Garcia also started all three matches for Spain, playing 266 minutes to Ramos' 50, in March.

Knee, calf and hamstring complaints have limited Ramos' involvement in 2021, but he had also already missed more matches than Madrid would have liked in the first half of the campaign.

By the closing round of LaLiga fixtures on Saturday, which Ramos watched from the bench as Madrid lost their title, the 35-year-old had been absent for significantly more matches (31) for the side this season than he had played (21).

Those 21 games and 1,790 minutes are by far the fewest Ramos has played across a season since joining Madrid in 2005, undercutting the previous low marks of 33 and 2,843 in 2015-16.

Ramos was still able to play his part in seven clean sheets, more than the six Madrid managed with their captain on the field in 2016-17 when he appeared 44 times.

His 2020-21 win rate of 62 per cent was a marginal improvement on the previous campaign, too.
 

BLEND OF BATTLER AND BALL PLAYER

Had Ramos been able to get on the pitch more often, his performances would surely have seen him included by Luis Enrique.

Among Ramos and the five centre-back options named in the squad – Diego Llorente, Pau Torres, Aymeric Laporte, Cesar Azpilicueta and Garcia – the snubbed skipper ranked fourth of the six for tackles (0.9) and tackles won (0.7) per 90 minutes this season.

Ramos was second behind only Llorente (1.5) for interceptions (1.4) and also trailed just the Leeds United man (7.4) in recoveries (5.6).

The World Cup winner was bottom of the pile in blocks (0.3) but third for clearances (2.6), holding his own in the majority of defensive categories.

Llorente (10.4 and 6.0) and Azpilicueta (9.5 and 5.3) led Ramos in duels (7.0) and duels won (4.1), although Laporte (4) joined that duo in contesting more aerial duels than the former Sevilla man (3.8). Ramos (2.4) won more of these battles per 90 than Azpilicueta (2.2), however.

It might come as no surprise that Manchester City pair Garcia (90.1 and 85.5) and Laporte (88.1 and 80.6) top the charts in passes and successful passes, but Ramos (78.5 and 72.1) is third. He is fourth for touches (88.3), too.

Ramos' numbers are competitive in both natural defensive metrics and in ball playing, whereas the others in the squad specialise in one or the other.

Luis Enrique will feel confident he has a wide array of options, but it is clear to see why a conversation with Ramos was "difficult and tough", even if the player later posted on Twitter "the best thing to do is rest, fully recover and come back next year".

The coach and the rest of Spain must hope this is not a costly call.

Luis Enrique believes his decision to omit Sergio Ramos from Spain's Euro 2020 squad is in the best interest of the national team.

Real Madrid captain Ramos, the all-time record international appearance holder with 180, was the standout absentee when Luis Enrique named a 24-man party for the tournament, which begins next month.

The 35-year-old struggled with injury problems throughout 2020-21 and was restricted to 21 appearances for Madrid across all competitions.

However, Luis Enrique's decision not to select Ramos caused surprise on Monday – especially as he did not fill the 26 places allowed in expanded Euro 2020 squads, nor find a spot for any Real Madrid players.

"I'd like to send message to Sergio Ramos, our captain, who is not on the list as he has not been able to compete since January in the right condition, or even train with the group," Luis Enrique told reporters.

"I told him by phone last night, it was difficult and tough, but it's best for the team.

"My conversation with Sergio yesterday remains private, I won't tell anyone. It was not easy to tell him something which was not positive for him, but I have to make decisions which I and my staff consider is best for the team.

"Any decision I made about Sergio Ramos would have been controversial. I know where I am and accept there will be media noise."

Aymeric Laporte is now expected to play a key role in the heart of Spain's defence, even though he only changed international affiliation from France earlier this month.

Luis Enrique was reported to have lobbied the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to allow for Laporte's inclusion and insists the Manchester City centre-back's availability and Ramos being cast aside were not related.

"The Aymeric Laporte decision is nothing to do with the Ramos situation," he said.

"He is a top player, can help our national team a lot and plays at one of the best clubs in history.

"Please don't mix Ramos not being in the squad with call ups for others. I'd have liked him to be here, to have recovered."

Like his call not to pick Ramos, Luis Enrique neglecting to select 26 players was also one he attributed to nurturing squad unity.

"We are taking 24 players. Most have picked 26, but we just added another striker [to the original limit of 23] as we value a lot the feeling that each player can participate in any moment," he explained.

"Also, it is better to train with this number of players."

The former Barcelona boss failing to pick a single Madrid representative in his party will undoubtedly raise eyebrows, with fitness woes having also compromised Dani Carvajal's prospects.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Marcos Llorente is likely to be an option at right-back in Carvajal's absence.

"I cannot pick the squad based on whether some people will be happy or not," Luis Enrique responded when the lack of a Madrid contingent was raised.

"Llorente can play at full-back but we won't forget what he can do in other positions, breaking forward from midfield. I like to have versatile players who can fill different roles."

Spain have been drawn alongside Sweden, Poland and Slovakia in Group E and are aiming to improve upon last-16 exits at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Nevertheless, Luis Enrique sees no reason why the glory days of three consecutive major tournament successes between 2008 and 2012 – successes to which Ramos was so pivotal – cannot return.

"Previous Spain teams have won trophies," he added. "I believe we are among the six or eight favourites this year, we will have to show on the pitch what we are capable of.

"Why not aim to win it all?"

Spain captain Sergio Ramos has not been included in Luis Enrique's Euro 2020 squad after an injury-troubled 2020-21 season.

Aymeric Laporte, who only this month switched his allegiance from France to Spain, is among the centre-back options to have been preferred to the veteran.

Ramos was part of the national team that won three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012 and has remained a key man for club and country ever since, breaking Italy great Gianluigi Buffon's all-time international appearances mark of 176 earlier this season.

The 35-year-old has had the armband for Spain under Luis Enrique but played only 50 minutes of the March World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Kosovo before returning to Madrid injured.

Ramos was limited to 21 appearances in all competitions for Madrid this term, missing 31 matches. Zinedine Zidane's side actually conceded more often (1.0 per game vs 0.8) with Ramos in the team.

Remarkably, former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique did not name a single Madrid player in his finals squad.

Right-back Dani Carvajal is injured, leaving Spain light in that area of the pitch where Atletico Madrid midfielder Marcos Llorente may deputise, while Los Blancos team-mates Marco Asensio and Isco have fallen out of favour.

Madrid's Nacho is another centre-back ignored, with Manchester City pair Laporte and Eric Garcia preferred to he and Ramos despite spending much of the season behind Ruben Dias and John Stones in the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium.

French-born Laporte, City's premier defensive option prior to this season, has made 27 appearances in all competitions for the Premier League champions but is in line for an international debut after this weekend's Champions League final.

Garcia – widely expected to join Barca when his contract expires next month – was limited to just 12 outings and nine starts, with a solitary clean sheet.

Spain squad for Euro 2020:

Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbo), David De Gea (Manchester United), Robert Sanchez (Brighton and Hove Albion); Jose Gaya (Valencia), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Eric Garcia (Manchester City), Diego Llorente (Leeds United), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea); Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri (Manchester City), Pedri (Barcelona), Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Fabian Ruiz (Napoli); Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Adama Traore (Wolves), Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain)

Spain captain Sergio Ramos has not been included in Luis Enrique's Euro 2020 squad after an injury-troubled 2020-21 season.

Eric Garcia showed exactly why Manchester City wanted to keep him in the Premier League as Spain took their first steps towards the World Cup, according to Luis Enrique.

The 20-year-old defender looks certain to leave City for Barcelona at the end of the season, having turned down the chance of a new contract with the Premier League leaders.

Garcia has not started a Premier League match since October, making just two fleeting substitute appearances in the competition since then, with Pep Guardiola mainly trusting John Stones and Ruben Dias.

He played three consecutive World Cup qualifying games for Spain during the international break, however, lining up against Greece, Georgia and Kosovo.

"The situation with Eric is not normal," Spain coach Luis Enrique said. "We took some risks by calling a player who has played very little this season, but we trust him so much and his level is so high that, after three months without playing, he is able to come here and play three high-level games.

"He is a very intelligent player, you would never believe how young he is given how he behaves on the pitch. He gives us a lot of confidence in defence, he is very skilled, so that is why Man City have been trying to re-sign his contract for a long while, although he made a different decision."

Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique added: "We are so happy to have a player like Eric. He leads our defence and is very communicative on the pitch and smart.

"He knows what to do every time and also is aware of the aspects he has to improve. Even though he does not play at his club, he can come here and do it well. He has just proved his [high] level the week he has been here."

Spain went top of World Cup Qualifying Group B after goals from Dani Olmo, Ferran Torres and Gerard Moreno earned Luis Enrique's side a 3-1 win over Kosovo.

Dani Olmo, who netted a last-minute winner to spare Spain's blushes in a 2-1 victory over Georgia, opened the scoring against Kosovo with a sumptuous finish.

Ferran Torres followed up quickly with a confidently taken second, allowing Spain to breathe a sigh of relief as a campaign that got off to a stuttering start began to gather pace.

A blunder from goalkeeper Unai Simon allowed Kosovo's Besar Halimi to pull one back, but Moreno headed home to seal victory and give Spain a one-point lead over Sweden, who have a game in hand in Group B.

 

Spain coach Luis Enrique has defended his rotation policy following their slow start to 2022 World Cup qualifying.

La Roja needed a 92nd-minute Dani Olmo strike to edge Georgia 2-1 following their opening 1-1 home draw with Greece, with Luis Enrique rotating his starting XI for both matches.

The situation led to criticism of Luis Enrique, who pointed out only months ago Spain defeated Germany 6-0 in the Nations League.

Spain take on Kosovo on Wednesday and Luis Enrique insisted his approach would not change.

"Why don't we have a first-choice starting XI? Well, that's right. I have to make my decisions," Enrique said.

"What I am not going to do as the national team manager is – and if people don't agree I don't care – to make my decision according to what Pepe, Manolo or Lucas want.

"I'm a professional coach with an extensive CV that proves what I achieved as a football manager, so that is why the Spanish FA hired me.

"I won't change my way of doing things. I have a 24-player squad right now and any of them could play tomorrow, which is much better than having just 11 key players."

The former Barcelona coach added that there were benefits to giving his players more experience in the starting line-up with a view to this year's European Championship.

"In that case, if three players suddenly get injured, then I would have to use some players at the Euros who would be lacking in confidence," he said.

"I don't believe in doing that. I had a successful career, so why should I change now? I respect every opinion but I am the manager and my experience proves that.

"And in the Euros that is how I will do it, it's the same for the World Cup when my contract will expire."

The former Spain international added he respected Kosovo and their style ahead of Wednesday's game in Seville.

"I have watched them in some games where they press high up the field intensely, a daring and brave side that try to play the ball from the back," Luis Enrique said.

"I like their team, given that they take risks. They will make it hard for us in some stages of the game. They have good attacking players with a good striker and then [Valon] Berisha and some other good creative midfielders."

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