MADRID: New Spain coach Luis Enrique announced his first squad on Friday, with Barcelona’s Jordi Alba and Koke of Atlético Madrid the major absentees for their UEFA Nations League matches against Croatia and England.
Luis Enrique, who is without the recently retired trio of Andrés Iniesta, David Silva, and Gerard Piqué, suggested his philosophy would be evolution, rather than revolution when he took charge last month.
Building on the foundations laid by predecessor Julen Lopetegui, Luis Enrique has retained a nucleus of young players – giving uncapped trio Pau López, José Gaya, and Dani Ceballos a first call-up.
“Our style will remain the same, looking to dictate games, but we need to put our own little touches to it,” he told a news conference.
“We aren’t going to compare ourselves to past Spain squads who won stuff, but rather the teams we are going to face, and in that sense I don’t think we’re inferior to anyone.”
“I’ll be playing a 4-3-3 (formation), which is the style I like, but we aren’t closing the door to anyone.”
Marcos Alonso was rewarded for his fine start to the Premier League season with Chelsea, while there were also spots in the 24-man squad for his club mates Álvaro Morata, César Azpilicueta, and Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Manchester United’s David de Gea, who was widely criticised during Spain’s torrid World Cup campaign, retains his place, while Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto is recalled after missing out on a place in Russia.
Spain play World Cup semifinalists England at Wembley on September 8 before hosting beaten finalists Croatia three days later.