Spain probably had the most media coverage ahead of Euro 2020 due to Luis Enrique’s decision to name his squad without a single Real Madrid player. Taking an inexperienced squad to a tournament is always bound to attract pessimism, but La Roja have so far exceeded all expectations.
After making a slow start to the tournament, Spain have been in beast mode. On Friday, they booked their place in the semi-final after defeating Switzerland on penalties. Enrique and his side may not have been considered as pre-tournament favourites but their performances so far suggest they cannot be underrated.
Spain ride their luck against Switzerland
La Roja weren’t always in cruise control against Switzerland, who defeated world champions France in the quarter-final to reach this stage.
However, Spain never panicked when the going got tough. Having taken an early lead after an own goal from Denise Zakaria, the Swiss fought back to equalise through Xherdan Shaqiri.
From that moment, the pressure was back on Spain before Remo Freuler’s sending off changed everything. In truth, La Roja should have won the game in regulation time after creating several chances.
However, they never let their heads down. Even after Sergio Busquets missed the first penalty of the shootout, Enrique and his side showed tremendous character to come back to win.
Spain sometimes rode their luck, especially during the 10 minutes after Switzerland’s equaliser, but they weathered the storm and got a deserved win.
Enrique serving humble pies to critics
So many people had written off Spain even before Euro 2020 began. La Roja’s struggles in their first two group games also gave fuel to these doubts. However, they have turned things around superbly. Enrique’s game management has been equally fantastic, as he continues to prove his critics wrong.
“That was the most tranquil penalty shoot-out I’ve ever been through because we’d done all our homework, all our practice and there was nothing left for the staff and me to do,” the Spain boss said, as quoted by Sky Sports.
“We are so proud. It’d be ridiculous to think that we, or any of the semi-finalists, would settle for just getting that far now – all of us want to get to the final and win,” added Luis Enrique.
Spain have now set up a tough semi-final game against Italy and their character and fighting spirit will once again be tested by Roberto Mancini and his impressive side.
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