Luis Enrique spoke in Prague at the press conference prior to the match against the Czech Republic on matchday two of the Nations League.
What do you expect from the Czech Republic?
We expect a difficult game because of the competition, because of the level of the teams. He has shown that he can beat any of the members of the group. We expect a brave team from what we have analyzed. He defends well, occupies the spaces well in attack and plays at home. In this competition we are already clear that there is no simple team.
Do you understand that on Monday the National Team takes a back seat because of Nadal?
What a problem (laughs). I hope I win number 14, 15, 16 and the ones I can, because it’s a source of pride. There is room for everything, especially if there are joys. And the beautiful thing about Nadal is the way he wins, but above all how he loses and what he represents. And if it can be a good victory for the National Team, even better.
What difference is there between the Asensio you knew and the one you have given opportunities to and the one you have now?
There is not much difference. Marco is a player endowed with a technical level and a top-world level shot. Asensio’s shot is not made by more than six players in the world, but football has more circumstances. He has a chance again. This is how we inform you, giving our inputs. He has more games left. Marco, for quality, could stay.
Have you been surprised by the results of the Nations League day?
I have heard a comment from the players something like: ‘since I come to the National Team, the sessions are of maximum demand’…
Unai Simón has been consolidated. What stands out about him?
I think you have to clear that doubt yourselves and you will have a clear idea. But what I am looking for is to have three starting goalkeepers. For us a goalkeeper has to start the game. We need a goalkeeper who dominates the aerial game, coverage and, personally, what he transmits. I need the doorman to transmit peace to me. That does not mean that it does not fail, because the error is part of football.
What do you look for in a center forward?
In this concentration, all those who have come are nines. You have to come join. In our team, if you look closely, the center-back looks for the striker from the beginning many times. And some of them, if they meet those premises, come back; if not, they don’t come back. They have to be well placed, have the ball and start.
Do you already know from FIFA if they leave you 23 or 26 players for the World Cup?
No one knows yet. There were several premises that there will be more than 23. We do not know if 24, 25 or 26. And that no one is left out of the concentrations. In other teams, two or three players were left out. In Spain that did not happen. There was a beastly atmosphere. Surely there will be more than 23 and they will all be concentrated during the matches.
Is one of the differences for which the National Team is that your team does not rest?
Could be. But let’s not forget that what we do without the ball is just one of the things we do during the match. But you should talk about what we do with the ball. There hasn’t been a match in our time where we haven’t generated more options. Not even Italy. I would highlight what the National Team does, but also without the ball. For example, tomorrow I don’t know how we’re going to end up. But that from tomorrow we are going to empty, that is certain and nobody can doubt it. And that without results has no success, but it gives me peace of mind.
Do you think they have already acquired the automatisms?
More than automation, because that is a+b+c, that is complex. The Czech Republic will press. Now they dream of playing with five, but another series of situations may appear. That is more complex than it seems and, without outdoing the player in terms of information, it will be important that we make it easier for him to make decisions. The National Team is characterized by an intelligent player profile and I have always praised it. It’s something I have to take advantage of.
Is Marcos Llorente’s drop in performance explained?
You will allow me to disagree. He has a top level and when a competition like the World Cup approaches, having players who can adapt to various positions is important. You have to have a high level to come as a midfielder here. It’s going to help us.
Can you count on Eric tomorrow?
He had tonsillitis, but he has trained for the last three days. We’ll see how the players are and I think we’ll be able to have everyone. I look forward to seeing today’s training.
At what point did you decide to turn the National Team around, to look for something else?
I have not discovered penicillin. If I see Pedri, and I like Pedri, then he continues. And when you see Gavi, well, he goes on. Based on the principles, you have is to be true to what you think. And I’m still open to surprises facing the World Cup. There will also be some player who falls. But if you bet on something it is because you are convinced.