Tuesday, December 7 2021

Luis Enrique insisted Tuesday that the Nations League is an important goal for Spain as they prepare for a rematch with Italy, who knocked them out of Euro 2020.

Spain face Final Four hosts Italy at the San Siro on Wednesday looking for some form of revenge for their penalty-shootout defeat in the semi-finals of the European Championship, and Luis Enrique says his young team need to aim big.

“It’s a prize for us. We’re one of four best teams of the year and that’s very stimulating for us,” Luis Enrique told reporters.

“We’ll try to progress and hopefully win something. This is a big, big prize for us and we need to show the ambition that we’ve lost in recent years. We need to try to progress but most of all we need to enjoy it.”

In his squad is 17-year-old Barcelona midfielder Gavi, who after being picked by Luis Enrique made his just his fifth ever La Liga appearance at the weekend.

He lines up in the squad alongside Barca teammate Sergio Busquets, a veteran of the team which won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

“I would say to him to enjoy the moment. He is young and lucky and I can tell him what he might see here,” said Spain captain Busquets.

“I’m sure he’s very keen and it’s all very easy for him. Now he’s got his chance he will show why he’s here.”

Luis Enrique said that Gavi needed “the same as other young players, patience and confidence”.

“The important thing isn’t when he will make his debut but what we will see in a few years when he reaches 50 or 100 caps for the national team,” Luis Enrique added.

Luis Enrique heaped praise on Italy after Spain’s elimination from the Euro and on Tuesday he continued his charm offensive towards the Nations League hosts, both as a team and a country.

“I love this country… For me it’s happiness (to be here), I love the food, the sunny weather, especially down south, the coffee, the ice cream and the language,” said former Roma coach Luis Enrique.

“We are quite alike in that we play from the back, like to have the ball and it’s a huge pleasure to play the European champions.

“If you’ve gone 37 matches without losing that means you’re doing a lot of things right.”

td/dmc

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