There are statements that age incredibly badly and come back to you quickly when things don’t go your way. Spain coach Luis Enrique made such a boomerang statement just before his side’s World Cup Round of 16 tie against Morocco.
Months ago, he suggested his players practice penalty kicks. « They should take at least 1,000 penalties in their club’s training sessions, » the 52-year-old said. A penalty shoot-out is not luck, but rather “the moment of greatest responsibility. You need fixed processes for that.
Two days after these declarations, Spain is on the ground. Eliminated. Against Morocco. On penalties. No other points are necessary. But in fact there is one: Because the nerves of every Spanish shooter give way from the point.
No one could have guessed it would come to this. Right? Not right. Because the departure from Spain has a system. In the sixth World Cup of this millennium, ‘La Furia Roja’ fails for the third time on penalties. In 2002, it was over against South Korea in the quarter-finals, in 2018 in the round of 16 against Russia, now against Morocco.
Thus, Spain was expelled in this way in the last two World Cups, among others. In between was the 2021 European Championship. And there, too, the title dream ended after a loss on penalties, this time in the quarter-final against Italy.
In the round of 16, they were the happiest. But that was only the case because Switzerland’s opponent failed three times from the point. Spain itself had awarded twice.
As a result, his own incapacity is particularly frightening. Of the last 12 penalty shootout attempts by Spanish players at a World Cup or European Championship, only half have resulted in the goal.
With the defeat against Morocco, the 2010 world champion also became a sad record holder. No team in World Cup history has lost more penalties than Spain. In five attempts, the Iberians lost four times. The English, known as the penalty losers, lost just three out of four attempts.
And how does Luis Enrique qualify the departure? « If anyone is responsible for this, it’s me, » the national coach said. The Spanish players were allowed to decide who shoots themselves. It’s Enrique’s responsibility. « If I could change anything, I would replace Bono – their goalkeeper, » he said of his Moroccan opponent.
The fact that Sarabia’s first penalty in particular was unsuccessful had nothing to do with the African keeper. The shot from the PSG striker hits the post. It had nothing to do with responsibility. At that time, Spain was probably unlucky.