Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique said he has no problem starting six Real Madrid players in his XI, a first for La Roja in more than 16 years.
Five different players scored for Spain in Elche — including Real’s Marco Asensio, Sergio Ramos and Isco — in a 6-0 UEFA Nations League drubbing of Croatia, their worst-ever defeat. The other three Los Blancos players who started were Nacho, Dani Carvajal and Dani Ceballos.
“I didn’t know and it doesn’t interest me,” Luis Enrique said. “They’re Spanish players and that’s it. The base is from Madrid and it seemed good. I only see the Spain jersey.
“There’s lots of competition. I’m delighted that they make it difficult for me and I accept the challenge.”
The Spain boss was quick to heap praise on the work-rate he witnessed over the last few weeks and particularly during the Croatia game.
“It is very hard to criticise anyone in a game with such a high standard,” he said. “What I liked over the last few weeks has been the attitude of the players. But that result against Croatia was worth it.”
Debuts were also handed to Jose Luis Gaya and Ceballos and while both impressed, the Real Madrid midfielder was particularly impressive.
“I saw Dani Ceballos countless times with Spain’s Under-21s and he did the same on his debut with them as he did with us, a different player,” Luis Enrique said. “He’s special, there aren’t many like that.”
Asensio was another player who announced himself on the scene, scoring once and forcing an own goal from Lovre Kalinic when his swerving effort came off the post and hit the Croatia keeper before bouncing into the net.
“Asensio scored two incredible goals,” Luis Enrique said. “He has a one-of-a-kind strike.”
And Asensio hailed his teammates for a “brilliant week” as Spain took six points from their first two Nations League matches after beating England 2-1 on Saturday.
“We played a spectacular game and rounded off a brilliant week. We needed to recuperate the feelings we had before, we’ve played two great games,” said Asensio.
“We’ve played two teams that went very far in the World Cup and these victories are very important to reach the final phase, which is a challenge we have set ourselves.”