Luis Enrique said there would be “no excuse” for Spain at Euro 2020, despite positive Covid-19 tests derailing their preparations for Monday’s Group E opener against the Sweden.
Spain captain Sergio Busquets is still self-isolating at home while defender Diego Llorente was only allowed to join the squad on Saturday after performing a fourth consecutive negative test.
Luis Enrique’s training plan was turned upside down last week, with the team training individually and the last friendly against Lithuania moved to the Under-21s.
The team were allowed to meet again on Saturday, at their Las Rozas training base in Madrid and, on Sunday, at La Cartuja stadium in Seville, where they will start against Sweden.
“About a year ago I spoke to the players and told them that we were going to have a very clear idea of how to play,” Luis Enrique said at a press conference on Sunday.
“We had to change a bit, we don’t have our captain here, Busquets, and we would have liked to have him, but we are adapting.
“It’s been a tough week, without a doubt, but no complaints, no apologies. We have a great team and we are excited for the first game tomorrow. “
The Spanish team were vaccinated by the Spanish army in Madrid on Friday and Jordi Alba allayed fears that players might experience side effects before or during the game.
“We’re all perfect,” Alba said on Sunday. “Everything is fine, fortunately. We are in a good mood. “
Alba, who looks set to replace Busquets as captain, admitted individual training has been “more boring” but insisted “the players know what the boss wants us to do”.
He said they focused on physical labor, which was not greatly affected.
Conditions could be unforgiving for anyone feeling below average, as temperatures in Seville could reach 30 degrees Celsius on Monday evening.
But the Spanish players will be used to the heat and Luis Enrique has scheduled the final sessions in Madrid for the hottest time of the day to make sure they are ready.
“The heat is a factor, but in Madrid it was very hot,” said Luis Enrique. “It’s not incredibly hot here so I think we should be able to play at a decent pace. “
Luis Enrique has turned his team a lot during his three-year tenure and the results have been inconsistent.
Alba and Busquets remain of Spain’s Euro success in 2012, but Luis Enrique is trying to usher in a new era, aiming to end a nine-year wait for a quarterfinal in a major tournament.
Luis Enrique was asked if they were up to the challenge. “I would love it and I have no doubts it is,” he said.
© 2021 AFP