Last Tuesday saw Spain rock Croatia in a momentous 6-0 thrashing, coincidently the largest defeat in Croatia’s history. It was a convincing and important victory for Luis Enrique’s side who have now beaten 2018 World Cup semifinalists and finalists in England and Croatia.
Luis Enrique could not have dreamt of a better start. Or could he? In the post-match press conference he was asked about fielding six Madridistas. In his response he stated that he did not realize this and added that the basis of this national squad is Real Madrid and that’s fine with him.
Really Lucho? Are you sure about that? You, Luis Enrique the pride of Cules everywhere every time you played against our archenemy in particular in the away matches in the Bernabeu. Where the endless insulting chants against you did nothing but fuel your drive to defeat Madrid in order to show off that beautiful blaugrana shirt at the mob of bitter and silenced Madridistas?
I find it hard to imagine that Luis Enrique would not rather be able to count on a core of Barcelonistas in his squad.
That said, I won’t argue with him that as manager of la Selección Española, naturally his primary objective is to compete for winning the big international trophies. Being half Spanish myself I can attest that as a fan I want and expect nothing less. He absolutely has to pick from the best crop of national players, but it’s a nuisance that the majority of those are currently wearing Madrid shirts.
I have no problem in openly admitting that it irks me seeing that the tables have turned and instead of FC Barcelona it’s now Real Madrid who makes up the core of the national side.
I feel a strange mixed sensation of jealousy, sadness, pride and admiration as I watch Marco Asensio score lush goals and feed brilliant assists to his fellow Spanish (and Madridista) team-mates. Or see Isco effortlessly slot in a few goals while being a persistent threat out on the wing or midfield. And finally, observe Dani Ceballos mature into the player we all expected him to be when he took LaLiga by storm while playing for Real Betis.
The three that got away. The three which shoulda, coulda, woulda been playing for Barça…but don’t.
Me molesta y mucho. It bothers me that this board of directors have been complacent and neglectful when it comes to putting together a unit who not only gel well together from a playing perspective but also from a cultural one. I’m talking about a good group of players who know each other since many years from La Masia but also from the Spanish youth team. A unit of fellas that get on well, have similar values, are fully integrated when playing for club and country and get the continuity needed to play with each other as much as possible to form a brotherly type bond.
We saw this nucleus of Barça players have an exceptional peak during the 2008 – 2012 Euros and FIFA World Cup when we had the likes of Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Pedro Martinez, David Villa and Jordi Alba (both acquired during the tournaments) played and won everything together for both club and country.
However, it is now Real Madrid who has managed to assemble this heart for Spain. The result of which I fear will become more evident and convincing in due time as Julen Lopetegui will know exactly how to get the best out of this terrific group of players, continue to win important trophies and therefore leave Luis Enrique with little option but to pick more Madridistas than Barcelonistas for our national side.
A strange, paradoxical case of role reversal which needs getting used to for Barça socios like myself who consider themselves both Catalan and Spanish, support both club and national side and have enjoyed seeing our club historically be the main supplier of players for the Spain national football team.