Luis Enrique backs Morata and confirms striker will start against Poland

By Sports Desk June 18, 2021

Luis Enrique confirmed under-fire Alvaro Morata will start Spain's Euro 2020 Group E clash against Poland on Saturday and insisted the striker is in a positive frame of mind.

Morata, whose loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid was extended for another season this week, has been heavily criticised in recent days for his display in Spain's 0-0 draw with Sweden on Monday.

The 28-year-old squandered Spain's best chance when he fired wide with just Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen to beat – one of three off-target attempts before he was substituted in the 66th minute.

Morata, however, has netted three of Spain's four most recent European Championship goals and is his country's leading scorer since the 2016 tournament, with 16 in 32 appearances.

Luis Enrique has no worries over his form as Spain look to avoid opening a Euros tournament with no wins from their opening two matches for the first time since 1996.

"I have said that he and 10 others will play [against Poland] as an encouragement for him to find the greatest of trusts, not because he did not perform," the Spain head coach told a media conference.

"Morata does many important things in attack and defence and I am not going to give anything away.

"There is only one player who has scored more goals than Morata with 41 caps, only David Villa. For example, our great forwards like Raul or [Fernando] Torres had less than him with 41 games."

Asked how Morata's emotional state is, Luis Enrique responded: "It's very good. There are times when you talk to a player when non-verbal language tells you more and already in the game I saw it was perfect.

"Every week with Alvaro we have taught him things that I want him to improve, but this week I have not had to teach him anything. I like his smile at work and his attitude. I convey my trust in Alvaro and in everyone."

Gerard Moreno came off the bench against Sweden, with many Spain fans calling for the Villarreal striker to replace him up front from the start against Poland.

Luis Enrique, however, was keen for the focus to move away from who plays in the central striking role, insisting his side's goal threat should come from every area of the pitch.

"It is very odd to think that only the number nine of the national team has to score," the coach added.

"Everyone has the responsibility to score a goal just as in defence we all defend. We have called up the four forwards who scored the most goals in their championships throughout the season and the four of them understand each other perfectly."

Saturday's match in Seville will be the first meeting between Spain and Poland at a major tournament.

Spain have won eight of their 10 matches against Poland (D1 L1), with the sole Polish victory taking place over 40 years ago (November 1980), in a friendly played in Barcelona (2-1).

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