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Luis Enrique praises Gavi after impressive Spain debut

The midfielder shone in the win over Italy

Italy v Spain – UEFA Nations League 2021 Semi-final Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Spain coach Luis Enrique was full of praise for Barcelona midfielder Gavi after he impressed on his first appearance for the national team on Wednesday.

The teenager became Spain’s youngest ever player when he took to the pitch against Italy at the age of 17 years and 62 days and looked at home in the Nations League semi-final.

Spain went on to win the game 2-1, thanks to two goals from Ferran Torres, to inflict a first defeat on the European champions and end their world-record run of 37 games without defeat.

Luis Enrique was criticized before the match for his squad selection, after calling up players like Gavi and Yeremi Pino in favor or more experienced stars, but had plenty of praise for the youngsters after the match.

“See how good the kids are in Spain! It is not normal to see a player with this character, this confidence on his debut. He will be the future of the Spain squad and I think the present too,” he said.

“Verratti is his idol! I told him, today you press Verratti from the first moment to the last. He loved it.

“He played like he was at school or in the garden of his house and it’s great to have a player of this quality and personality.”

Gavi played 83 minutes before being taken off late on and replaced by his Barcelona team-mate Sergi Roberto and looks to have given himself a great chance of starting Sunday’s final. Spain go on to play the winners of today’s second semi-final between France and Belgium.