Cristiano Ronaldo, scale of La Roja towards the World Cup in Qatar

España se enfrenta a Portugal en la Nations League



Cristiano Ronaldo, scale of La Roja towards the World Cup in Qatar

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With Real Madrid’s fourteenth Champions League still in the gatherings and the spring rage for that Nadal that lasts and lasts, the sports calendar offers us a new edition of the Nations League that catches the fan with a changed foot. We are in June, the usual prelude to the big championships, but the 2022 World Cup awaits us in the autumn and not in the summer to beat the suffocating heat of Qatar. So today, with Portugal as a rival, a competition begins that has its goal in the Final Four of 2023 but whose true crumb lies in outlining the National Team with which to aspire to our second world title on December 18 (follow the match live on As.com).

That is the raison d’être of the call for Luis Enrique for these four straight games with which he starts the Nations League. Portugal, Czechia, Switzerland and again Czechia, in the latter case with La Roja as a local, they make up the menu for the 24 internationals. Twenty-four and not twenty-five, because yesterday Thiago Alcántara was absent due to muscular discomfort in his right leg, problems that already made him a doubt for the Champions League final played just a week ago and that now they have recommended rest. There will be time to return to the list, as the Liverpool midfielder is one of the tricks that Luis Enrique has to open the rival locks. It was always and more so now that he has signed an excellent end of the season with the Reds.

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Thiago was one of those who returned to the team, just like Ansu Fati does. He will not start, but surely he will have minutes to get closer to what we have all wanted for months: that he be happy again with a ball at his feet. Less than two years ago (September 6, 2020), Ansu became the youngest scorer in the history of the Spanish National Team by scoring 3-0 against Ukraine at just 17 years and 311 dayssurpassing Juan Errazquin, who did the same at the age of 18 in 1925. But the knee injuries have deprived us of the enormous talent of the Barça striker, one of the pearls with which Luis Enrique wants to make noise in Qatar 2022.

And since we’re talking about talent, Marco Asensio’s talent is dressed in red again, a year and a half after his last act of service (6-0 against Germany at La Cartuja): “I won’t deny it; it’s a key moment for me”, he acknowledged in the interview published yesterday in this newspaper. It is true, it is the key moment and the Nations League seems like a train that the Balearic cannot miss. Many others want to join him, such as Raúl de Tomás, who must make room for himself in a forward line in which Ferran Torres, Olmo or Morata seem untouchablealso like Iñigo Martínez, who returns in the absence of Aymeric Laporte due to injury after his stressful end of the season with City.

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Both they and those who Luis Enrique decides to form part of the starting eleven will join the cause of the good game of which the Asturian has made a flag. Possession is the identity of Spain, although there are those who conjugate the phrase passively. “I think that Spain’s strongest attribute is not possession of the ball, but rather its ability to win it back,” says Fernando Santos, the Portuguese coach. In his case, the strongest attribute of Portugal is Cristiano, although on many occasions that is the tree that does not let us see the forest. Because Portugal is much more than the United striker, who at 37 still has the same hunger as the Nadal with whom we began this chronicle. Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leão, Guedes or Diego Jota are other pearls that adorn the team against which we started a Nations League with which to get in shape for that World Cup that in Spain will be lived with a coat.

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