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Luis Enrique: ‘Spain will not gamble against Japan’

Luis Enrique: ‘Spain will not gamble against Japan’

Spain boss Luis Enrique has insisted that his side will not be ‘gambling’ on their spot in the knockout round of the 2022 World Cup by attempting to finish second in Group E.

La Roja started their competition with a 7-0 victory over Costa Rica on November 23 before playing out a 1-1 draw with Germany four days later.

Four points has left the 2010 world champions top of Group E ahead of Friday’s clash with Japan, and they would be through to the knockout round with a win or a draw in their last game.

A victory over Japan would ensure that they top the section, but they could potentially come up against tournament favourites Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Enrique has said that his team have “reflected” on all scenarios, and he is simply not prepared to run the risk of being eliminated in order to potentially gain a more favourable route.

Spain coach Luis Enrique during training on November 14, 2022© Reuters

“We have reflected on it,” Enrique told reporters. “But imagine we want to finish second, we get to the 90th minute and it’s 0-0 in the two games, and in the 95th minute with 15 seconds left, Japan and Costa Rica both score. You gambled, and you’re out.

“Or imagine Germany are 5-0 up, we’re looking for a draw, and Japan score and we’re out.

“When you’re convinced that you have a very good team and you want to play seven games [to get to the final], it isn’t about finishing second.

“We want to finish first. If we play Brazil in the quarter-finals, great, we’ll play Brazil. But we won’t count our chickens before they’ve hatched.

Brazil fans celebrate after the match on November 28, 2022© Reuters

“Brazil are a world power, a clear favourite in any World Cup, in any year. Brazil will always be among the favourites, they have a lot of individual and collective quality.

“Beyond that, there aren’t any surprises. I look at the FIFA rankings and the majority of the favourites are in the top 10. France and Brazil have both won comfortably, they’re top teams.”

Spain famously won the World Cup in 2010 during a period of international domination, with La Roja also winning the European Championship in 2008 and 2012.

However, the European nation have failed to impress in their last two World Cups, being eliminated in the group stage in 2014 before only reaching the round of 16 in Russia four years ago.

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