Spain is always considered a title contender when it comes to the big trophies in football. But the southern Europeans' most successful period now seems to have passed. The end of the round of 16 of the World Cup therefore costs coach Luis Enrique his job. His successor has already been determined.
The end came two days after the nasty surprise: Luis Enrique is no longer Spain's national coach. The RFEF association drew the consequences of the disappointing round of 16 defeat on penalties against Morocco and Enrique's more than four-year tenure, marked by the tragic death of his daughter Xana, remains without a sporting triumph. His successor comes from within the company.
Association president Luis Rubiales and sporting director Jose Francisco Molina described the decision in favor of the 61-year-old former U21 national coach Luis de la Fuente as a "new project". They had previously thumbed down Enrique, who had spread "hope for the future of the Spanish national team" with the generation change that had taken place. Nevertheless, those responsible decided on a different path than the DFB, which, despite the failure with Hansi Flick as a coach, allows continuity to prevail.
De la Fuente, who has been responsible for young talent selections in the association since 2013, has yet to be officially confirmed by the committees and should then be presented on Monday. He won European titles first with the U19s and then in 2019 with the U21s, who defeated Germany 2-1 in the final. Despite public pressure, he did without defensive star Sergio Ramos at the Olympic Games and won silver.
"With de la Fuente there will be a smooth transition for La Roja," analyzed "AS": "A coach who also relies on the famous Tiki-Taka, but whose teams always had alternatives." Now the new man is scheduled to make his first appearances in a new role in March in the qualifiers for Euro 2024 in Germany against Norway and Scotland.
He knows many of the pros like Leipzig's Dani Olmo very well and is supposed to turn the big talents into a team ready for the title, which can build on the highly successful period from 2008 to 2012 with two European Championship trophies and the 2010 World Cup triumph in South Africa.
Enrique ultimately failed to do so despite promising attempts and left his future open even after losing on penalties to African outsiders Morocco. The association has recognized his work since 2018, with which Enrique gave Furia Roja "new impetus". At the European Championships last year, his team failed in the semi-finals against eventual European champions Italy.
For the former player and coach of FC Barcelona, his tenure was extremely difficult, especially personally. In 2019, he left work to care for his daughter, who died of cancer in August of that year. Months later, Enrique resumed his job. She is "present every day" for him and his family, Enrique said after the 1-1 draw in the World Cup group match against Germany. Xana would have turned 13 that day.