Things are moving very quickly for Pedri.

This time last year he was 17 years old and preparing for a Copa del Rey clash against Badajoz with Las Palmas, now he is playing for Barcelona and his coach is fielding questions about the possibility of him representing Spain at the delayed Euro 2020.

Calls for him to be considered by Luis Enrique intensified after he produced a fine display in Barca's 3-2 victory over Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, becoming the youngest player in LaLiga history to score and assist in a single game.

At 18 years and 42 days old he headed home an equaliser after Inaki Williams' opener at San Mames and then produced a lovely backheel that Messi steered home to put the Blaugrana on the path to a 3-2 win.

Asked on Friday if Pedri is deserving of a first call-up to the senior Spain squad, Barca boss Ronald Koeman said: "It's not my decision.

"We can say a lot of positive things about Pedri's career so far. Nobody expected a boy of his age to play almost every game. He deserves it.

"It seems like he's been at the club for years, but young players always have ups and downs, you have to see how he continues to evolve, but I have no doubts that he will continue to improve.

"He has to show this level for a longer time, but you don't have to rush."

But how does Pedri stack up against the other options available to Luis Enrique?

A FINE PLAYMAKER

Among Spanish midfielders and attackers playing in the top five European leagues to have featured in at least 10 games in all competitions this season, Pedri ranks sixth in terms of chances created with 26 – 11 shy of Iago Aspas at the top of the list.

Only Isco (31.4) and Cesc Fabregas (30.9) have attempted more passes ending in the final third per 90 minutes than Pedri (30.6), though the Barca star averages more successful ones (24.6) than Fabregas (21.2). Isco leads the way with 25.6 successful passes ending in the final third each game.

AT THE HEART OF THINGS

When looking at the performances of Spanish midfielders in the top five European leagues, only Napoli's Fabian Ruiz (93) has been involved in more unique open play sequences ending with a shot than Pedri (79). Nine of the sequences featuring Pedri have ended in a goal, a tally that only Denis Suarez (10) and Marcos Llorente (13) can better.

The overall expected goals value of the open play sequences ending with a shot or goal that Pedri has been involved in is 10.5, putting him top of the list. It means that not only is the 18-year-old involved in a many passages of play compared to his contemporaries, he is involved in dangerous ones.

Pedri has initiated 16 open play sequences that ended with a shot this season, enough for joint-fourth alongside Dani Parejo. Rodri is top on 22 but his role at Manchester City means he is relied upon to regain possession and start moves from there. Barca would not expect breaking up the opposition's play to be a huge part of Pedri's game, but he is still able to get them moving forward.

Of the shot-ending sequences in open play that Pedri has been involved in, he created the chance and was also involved in the build-up on eight occasions. Luis Alberto (9) of Lazio is the only player with more multi chance involvements.

VERDICT

Spain have an abundance of attacking midfield options, but Pedri is already showing a level of involvement in Barca's build-up play that must surely put him in Luis Enrique's thinking. He has also proved versatile, with Koeman using him out wide, behind the striker and also in a deeper midfield role at times this season. Regardless of where he plays, Pedri is regularly involved in sequences that lead to goalscoring opportunities and looks set to continue doing so for years to come.

Joachim Low is still the right man to lead Germany, according to Kai Havertz.

The 2014 World Cup-winning coach's tenure has come under fresh scrutiny following last month's 6-0 Nations League thrashing at the hands of Spain.

That setback came as the latest blow to Low's authority after a humbling group-stage exit when they defended their world title at Russia 2018.

The 60-year-old took charge after the 2006 World Cup, meaning it would be more than understandable for him to be running on empty, although Chelsea star Havertz - who missed the previous international break after contracting coronavirus - believes Low has plenty left to offer.

"For me personally, definitely," he told Sky Deutschland when asked about Low's suitability for his role.

"It feels like everyone is talking about it, but sometimes it goes badly in football. 

"I believe that a young team like the one we have at the moment will learn a lot from a 6-0 defeat. 

"We'll be coming back. We have a huge quality in the team."

Low's decision to jettison experienced trio Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels has also invited scrutiny, especially with the former two now excelling under his one-time assistant Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich.

"I also get the discussion with Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. For me, these are extraordinary players who have performed very well for the team," Havertz said.

"But we can't decide that, the national coach has to do that. In the end, however, we are very happy with the coach and we still have a lot to do in the future. I appeal to the patience of both the media and the fans."

Pressed on whether he would prefer to see Muller, Boateng and Hummels back in the fold, Havertz tried to remain noncommittal.

"It's not my decision. Ultimately, the coach has to clarify that with his staff. They can judge that best," he added.

"It would be wrong if I were to say something directly about it."

England will face Robert Lewandowski and Poland in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Gareth Southgate's side have been drawn in Group I, also alongside Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino.

World champions France are in Group D with Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

The Netherlands headline a tricky Group G, which also includes Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia and Gibraltar.

Croatia, the beaten finalists two years ago, are in an intriguing Group H with Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.

Spain will face Sweden, Greece, Georgia and Kosovo in Group B, with Portugal in Group A along with Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

Belgium, the world's top-ranked side, face Euro 2016 quarter-final opponents Wales, and Germany will meet Romania and Iceland.

The matches will take place from March to November next year, with the 10 group winners advancing automatically to the finals in Qatar and 10 runners-up heading into the play-offs.

World Cup 2022 UEFA qualifying draw:

Group A
Portugal
Serbia
Republic of Ireland
Luxembourg
Azerbaijan

Group B
Spain
Sweden
Greece
Georgia
Kosovo

Group C
Italy
Switzerland
Northern Ireland
Bulgaria
Lithuania

Group D
France
Ukraine
Finland
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Kazakhstan

Group E
Belgium
Wales
Czech Republic
Belarus
Estonia

Group F
Denmark
Austria
Scotland
Israel
Faroe Islands
Moldova

Group G
Netherlands
Turkey
Norway
Montenegro
Latvia
Gibraltar

Group H
Croatia
Slovakia
Russia
Slovenia
Cyprus
Malta

Group I
England
Poland
Hungary
Albania
Andorra
San Marino

Group J
Germany
Romania
Iceland
North Macedonia
Armenia
Liechtenstein

Roberto Mancini sees similarities between his Italy side and Spain after they were drawn to face each other in the Nations League semi-finals.

Italy were confirmed as hosts for the finals of the tournament in October 2021, Milan and Turin selected as the venues to stage fixtures.

The Azzurri qualified from Group A1 ahead of the Netherlands and are on a 22-game unbeaten run, though they will have to get past Spain if they are to play in the final at San Siro.

Luis Enrique's side progressed from Group A4 at the expense of Germany, who they sensationally thrashed 6-0 last month in the final round of qualifying games.

Belgium will face France in the other half of the draw, but Mancini believes, like his own squad, Spain are starting to see the benefits following a period of change.

"I think Spain are in a similar position to ours," the former Inter coach said after the draw. "They changed many players but they still have some strong and experienced players like Sergio Ramos.

"They have built a strong team, playing slightly more vertical than previously but still with a midfield so technical. Their style of play, it's not completely different.

"Maybe they added some fast wings that make their play more unpredictable. It will be a very interesting game."

Ramos remains one of the old guard still around for Spain and Mancini sees no signs of the centre-back losing a step, despite now being 34.

While his club future remains unclear – Ramos' contract with Real Madrid runs out at the end of this season – Italy's boss insists the defender still remains one of best in the world at his position.

"I'm not Real Madrid president but I think Sergio Ramos is one of the best defenders in the world for many years," Mancini said.

"He is a great player, he has unique technical skills and he is a very charismatic player. For sure he is the most important player for Real Madrid, but also for Spain.

"He is able to transmit that determination that is very important for a captain."

Both Italy and Spain will compete in Euro 2020 – delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic – prior to the conclusion of the Nations League, though Luis Enrique is a fan of the tournament.

"It is far on the calendar but it is like that because there are no other dates," the Spain boss told the media.

"That it is far away does not mean that we do not have much desire and great enthusiasm to lift this title, which would be wonderful. I consider the Nations League to be a great success and I am delighted to be able to participate in it."

Italy have been confirmed as hosts of next year's Nations League finals, with Roberto Mancini's team drawn against Spain in the first semi-final.

UEFA confirmed on Thursday what was already widely known as it declared that Group A1 winners Italy would put on the tournament.

Games will be played in Milan and Turin, with San Siro staging the final.

Italy and Spain will play the first semi-final at San Siro on October 6, followed a day later by FIFA's top-ranked team Belgium taking on World Cup holders France at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

The third-place play-off in Turin and the final in Milan will both take place on Sunday, October 10.

Joachim Low will continue as Germany head coach after intense scrutiny over his future following the 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain.

Pressure on the World Cup-winning boss grew immeasurably following the Nations League humbling earlier this month and the German Football Association (DFB) said there would be a "timetable" to assess the "situation".

On Monday, the governing body reaffirmed its support for the 60-year-old to lay to rest any speculation his long tenure was about to come to an end.

The news follows crunch talks between Low, who has been in the job since 2006, and senior members of the DFB, including national team director Oliver Bierhoff.

"It was important for the national coach to discuss the current situation, the defeat against Spain and the months ahead of the European Championship in an open, constructive and intensive exchange," a DFB statement read. 

"In the process, Joachim Low informed those involved about his assessments, ideas and further plans. 

"The members of the Executive Committee agreed that what counts is the high-quality work of the coaching staff, the intact relationship between the team and the coach and a clear concept for the previous and future procedures. 

"A single game cannot and must not be a yardstick for the general performance of the national team and the national coach."

The reverse against Spain was Germany's heaviest defeat since they lost to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline, as Manuel Neuer, who set a new record for a German goalkeeper by winning his 96th cap, conceded six goals in a competitive game for the first time in his career.

The manner of the defeat, described by Low as "awful", was particularly concerning. Germany failed to muster a shot on target, had just 30 per cent of the possession, and Toni Kroos (43) was the only player from the visitors to have more successful passes than Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon (41).

It was their first loss of 2020, yet they won only three of eight matches this year, also drawing with Spain, Switzerland twice and Turkey.

Germany will be keen for a considerable improvement prior to next year's rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament, in which they are in a tough Group F alongside world champions France, holders Portugal and Hungary.

Joachim Low will be given "time and emotional distance" to deal with Germany's stunning defeat to Spain, but Oliver Bierhoff is leading an assessment of the national team’s future.

Pressure is building on World Cup-winning coach Low after the sensational 6-0 reverse in the Nations League last week.

It was Germany's heaviest defeat since they lost to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline, as Manuel Neuer, who set a new record for a German goalkeeper by winning his 96th cap, conceded six goals in a competitive game for the first time in his career.

The manner of the defeat, described by Low as "awful", was particularly concerning. Germany failed to muster a shot on target, had just 30 per cent of the possession, and Toni Kroos (43) was the only player from the visitors to have more successful passes than Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon (41).

It was their first loss of 2020, yet they won only three of their eight matches in Group A4, also drawing with Spain, Switzerland twice and Turkey.

German Football Association (DFB) president Fritz Keller offered Low his support in the aftermath of the shock result in Seville, as did team director Bierhoff.

However, the DFB announced on Monday a "timetable" to assess the "situation" of the national team following the defeat.

"The DFB presidential board has unanimously agreed on a timetable to gather information, evaluate it and advise on next steps," a statement read.

"This also gives the national team head coach enough time and emotional distance to fundamentally review the national side's current situation.

"In sporting terms, to analyse the causes of the heavy defeat in Sevilla, but also, personally, to come to terms with the great disappointment. That's part of the process.

"When the presidential board meets on December 4, Oliver Bierhoff, the team director, will provide an overview and assessment of the current situation regarding the national side.

"That will include lessons learned from the loss against Spain, as well as the side's overall development in the last two years.

"The DFB will provide more information at that time about the results of the discussions and next steps."

Low has been in charge since 2006, finishing third at the 2010 World Cup before claiming the title four years later.

At the European Championships, Germany reached the final in 2008 and the semi-finals in 2012 and 2016.

However, although victory at the Confederations Cup in 2017 – where Low named a scratch squad – and the European Under-21 Championship in the same year hinted at an era of dominance, subsequent results have been less impressive.

The defending champions crashed out of the 2018 World Cup at the group stage and would then have been relegated in the inaugural Nations League but for a change of format.

They missed out on the Finals again due to the defeat to Spain, when only a draw was required to advance.

At next year's delayed Euro 2020, Germany have been drawn into a daunting group alongside world champions France, European champions Portugal and Hungary.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was last week asked about the possibility of replacing Low. "In the future? Maybe," he replied. "Now? No."

Joachim Low is still the right man to lead Germany down a "rocky path" despite their humiliating 6-0 loss to Spain, according to the country's top football figure.

Needing only a point to secure a place at next year's Nations League Finals, Germany were embarrassed in Seville as La Roja triumphed through a Ferran Torres hat-trick and goals from Alvaro Morata, Rodri and Mikel Oyarzabal.

It was the 2014 World Cup-winners' heaviest defeat since they lost to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline, as Manuel Neuer, who set a new record for a German goalkeeper by winning his 96th cap, conceded six goals in a competitive game for the first time in his career.

The manner of the defeat, described by Low as "awful", was particularly concerning. Germany failed to muster a shot on target, had just 30 per cent of the possession, and Toni Kroos (43) was the only player from the visitors to have more successful passes than Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon (41).

It also cast a poor reflection on Low's decision last year to tell Germany stalwarts Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller they had no future with the national team, as the 60-year-old put his faith in younger players.

Fritz Keller, the president of the German Football Federation (DFB), admits there was always likely to be some difficult moments as Germany went through a transition period before Euro 2020.

However, he remains confident Low can turn things around and create a team capable of challenging next year, as well as at the 2022 World Cup and the Euros on home soil in four years' time.

"We had a black evening in Seville, which hurt us," Keller said in a statement. "The viewers at home, me, the coach, the players.

"I was in the dressing room after the final whistle and I felt everyone's extreme disappointment. But also the will to correct this feeling.

"Our young team can grow from the severe setback if this game, in which not only heart and passion were missing, is analysed carefully and the necessary conclusions are drawn. They have the potential.

"We made a conscious decision to bring about the change with many new and young players with perspective. As was seen yesterday, this path can be the more rocky one and also lead to painful defeats.

"But even if we all wished to get out of this difficult and, up until then, successful year of international matches, our challenge is still to form a strong team for the next three major tournaments: the European Championship next year, the 2022 World Cup and the European Championship on home soil in 2024."

Luis Enrique said his Spain team delivered a perfect display as they thrashed Germany 6-0 to secure their Nations League progression, while also revealing that Sergio Ramos' injury appears to be minor. 

Ferran Torres scored a hat-trick while Alvaro Morata, Rodri and Mikel Oyarzabal also grabbed goals in a remarkable match on Tuesday, meaning Spain top Group A4 ahead of their opponents. 

It was Spain's first win in four matches, Luis Enrique's side having drawn successive matches against Switzerland and the Netherlands on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Ukraine. 

However, victory in Seville was never in doubt as they dominated from start to finish, amassing 23 attempts to Germany's two and controlling 69.7 per cent of the possession. 

Neither of Germany's efforts were on target, with Spain the first side since France in November 2015 to prevent Joachim Low's side from hitting the target at all in a match. 

"Well, the game went perfectly. Everyone plugged in and hit the mark," former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique told reporters. 

"Germany has brought out its best team and I think that from the beginning we have played very well, and it is one of the best and most complete matches of the national team. 

"In the previous matches we were superior, but we had no prize. It will be nice to play in the final four.

"These players can represent Spain well. We have a group of 30 players who perform very well. Our forwards have a lot of quality, and I wish we had a player who scored a lot of goals, but today we have seen several players score." 

The only disappointment for Spain was first-half injuries sustained by Sergio Canales and Ramos, both suffering hamstring problems. 

Though unable to confirm a definite timeframe on Ramos' return, Luis Enrique offered hope that the Real Madrid defender will not be out for too long. 

"The injuries are minor and I hope they are out for a short time," he added. 

"It is what I feel the most, because I have been a club coach and I put myself in their place."

Alvaro Morata revelled in Spain's 6-0 rout of Germany as Luis Enrique's side shrugged off previous criticism to produce a stunning performance in Seville. 

Spain failed to make the inaugural Nations League Finals after a disappointing 2018 World Cup, but have progressed to the semi-finals in style this time around. 

Germany needed just a point from the clash to ensure they finished top of the group, yet instead Joachim Low's side suffered a chastening defeat on Tuesday. 

Morata opened the scoring, with Manchester City duo Ferran Torres and Rodri also on target before half-time. 

Torres went on to get a hat-trick – becoming the first Spanish player to net three in a single match against Germany – while substitute Mikel Oyarzabal rounded off the scoring late on.

The victory means Spain finish top of Group A4 having inflicted Germany's heaviest defeat since they lost 6-0 to Austria in 1931. 

This was no fluke either as the hosts dominated from the off, Torres alone managing seven attempts compared to two from Germany's entire team combined. 

A delighted Morata believes the performance will have silenced the doubters and praised the attitude of his team-mates.

"There is always something. I want to go home and see what they say about us," Morata told Teledeporte. 

"We have to do our job. The other day we did it. I would like to see what people say now. Against a European and world champion team. 

"We all help each other, there are young people. You have to have faith. We have a Euros ahead of us. 

"It is the attitude of the team. This is the team, we do what we have to do. It is a strong message for everyone. We want to continue this way. 

"It was our best match with Luis Enrique. You have to take it to see all the good we have done. We would like it to always be like this." 

After two years out of the national team picture, Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke has returned to Spain duty this month, featuring in all three November fixtures. 

It was his corner that allowed Rodri to head in Spain's third before the break and he finished the contest with a 95 per cent pass completion rate, also creating five chances for his team. 

"I had been away for a long time and continued working, which I have always done," Koke added. "The work pays off. Anything that is adding is positive for everyone." 

Torres, meanwhile, is anticipating a bright future for Spain. 

"We are very excited about the team we have and how things are going," the forward said. "Now we are going to prepare for the final four in the best possible way."

Mesut Ozil led the calls for Joachim Low to bring back Jerome Boateng after Germany were thrashed 6-0 by Spain on Tuesday.

The 2014 World Cup winners suffered the biggest competitive defeat in their history as they missed out on a place in the Nations League Finals.

Ferran Torres scored a hat-trick and there were further goals from Alvaro Morata, Rodri and Mikel Oyarzabal in Seville as Spain produced their finest performance under Luis Enrique.

Germany managed just two shots, neither of which were on target, and had only 30 per cent of the ball as they were led a merry dance by a home side who lost captain Sergio Ramos and Sergio Canales to hamstring injuries in the first half.

The manner of defeat will see Low's position as head coach come under more scrutiny, with Germany having failed to kick on sufficiently since the 60-year-old made the ruthless decision to remove Boateng, Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels from his plans following their group-stage exit at the 2018 World Cup.

Arsenal midfielder Ozil, who retired from international football that same year, brought Low's decision sharply back into focus after the chastening outing in Spain.

"Time to take Jerome Boateng back," he tweeted, tagging the account of the national team in his post.

The nature of Germany's collapse against Spain was more concerning given they only needed a draw to secure a spot at next year's Nations League final four.

Team director Oliver Bierhoff was deeply concerned by the defending on show but insisted Low had their support.

He told ARD: "We have to digest that. It will take a while. The team fell apart, which can't be allowed to happen. There is no excuse for it, but it happens when a team can't get a foothold at all.

"The Spain goalkeeper had nothing to do in the whole game. We have to analyse it as harshly as we can. A lack of experience is no excuse.

"We have to bring an end to the many organisational problems in defence. We know the quality of our players.

"The trust in Joachim Low is there, absolutely."

Ferran Torres scored a hat-trick as Spain secured a place at next year's Nations League Finals with a 6-0 demolition of Germany on Tuesday. 

Alvaro Morata, Rodri and Mikel Oyarzabal were also on the scoresheet in Seville as Joachim Low suffered the heaviest loss of his 14 years in charge. 

Germany needed only a point to secure top spot in Group A4 but found themselves 3-0 down by half-time, Spain delivering their best performance under Luis Enrique despite losing Sergio Ramos and Sergio Canales to hamstring problems. 

Manchester City's Torres added two more after the break before substitute Oyarzabal piled further pressure on Low, whose position will look increasingly perilous following this chastening defeat. 

Morata could hardly believe his luck when he was allowed a free header at the far post from a deep corner by Fabian Ruiz, on as an early substitute for the injured Canales, to open the scoring. 

Germany had struggled to get into the game and were fortunate not to be 2-0 down when Morata turned in Torres' cross only to be denied by a contentious offside call. 

Manuel Neuer, who became Germany's most-capped goalkeeper as he made his 96th appearance, did superbly to turn Torres' strike around the post as Spain once more got in down the right. 

However, he could do nothing to stop Torres smashing a rebound home from six yards after Dani Olmo's header had come back off the crossbar. 

It was 3-0 to an utterly dominant Spain five minutes later as a corner from Koke found an unmarked red shirt, this time in the form of Rodri, who glanced a brilliant header out of Neuer's reach. 

Ramos went off before the break after hurting his hamstring when sending a long pass forward, but his absence did little to shake Spain from their rhythm. 

With Germany pushing for a route back into the match, La Roja sprung a counter-attack down the left and Jose Gaya squared for Torres to steady himself and smash home number four. 

Torres secured his treble with 19 minutes to play, sweeping a low shot past a helpless Neuer as Spain once again cut the visiting defence to ribbons, and Oyarzabal was gifted an easy finish when Gaya prodded the ball into his path.

 

 

Spain's goalscoring issues were again laid bare in their 1-1 draw with Switzerland last week – a game that saw them dominate in terms of possession and chances without managing to claim the win.

Luis Enrique's side needed a late goal from substitute Gerard Moreno to rescue them a point, having earlier seen captain Sergio Ramos miss twice from the penalty spot on his record-breaking 177th international appearance.

That profligate display was far from a one-off, though, Spain having now scored just three times in their past five matches overall.

In the Nations League, meanwhile, they have seven goals in five Group A4 outings – a tally bolstered by a 4-0 win over Ukraine in September.

So, why are Spain struggling so badly in front of goal, and is Luis Enrique doing anything to rectify the problem?


A GAME OF CHANCE

Twelve teams have scored more goals in this year's Nations League than Spain, yet no team has created more chances than their 74, Portugal being the next highest with 72.

Quite clearly, then, the problem is not just a matter of creativity, but more to do with an inability to convert opportunities.

Take the Switzerland match on Saturday, for instance. Spain created 16 chances – not including Ramos' two spot-kicks – but put away just one of them.

Gerard's shot was one of 20 La Roja attempted at St. Jakob-Park, seven of which were on target, and arrived nine minutes after he was brought off the bench.

The Villarreal man got in front of his marker and converted Sergio Reguilon's left-sided cross on the edge of the six-yard box – a classic forward's finish, you could say.

Interestingly, Reguilon is Spain's top chance creator (nine), with the likes of Ferran Torres (eight), Ansu Fati (seven), Jesus Navas and Dani Olmo (both six) also contributing.

Spreading the chances throughout the side is one thing but Spain could perhaps do with a key creator in the mould of Bruno Fernandes.

He has laid on 17 chances for team-mates in five Nations League games, while Portugal team-mates Raphael Guerreiro and Bernardo Silva (both 11) are also into double figures.


STRIKER-LESS SYSTEM

Three of Spain's seven goals in the Nations League have been scored by defenders, one of those being a Ramos penalty.

The other four have been spread out between Gerard, Fati, Mikel Oyarzabal and Ferran, none of whom can be classed as pure strikers.

That is perhaps reflected in the conversion stats, with worst culprit Ferran scoring from one of his 10 shots, Fati from one of eight and Oyarzabal one of five.

To put that into some context, prolific Norway striker Erling Haaland has netted from six of his 14 efforts – a conversion rate of nearly 43 per cent – albeit against lesser opposition.

Perhaps a better example would be Timo Werner, striker for Group A4 opponents Germany, who has four goals from 14 shots against an identical level of opponent.


LUIS ENRIQUE – A MAN WITH A PLAN?

Luis Enrique's options may be limited in terms of out-and-out strikers, but he has inevitably been repeatedly asked about his commitment to using a false nine-style system.

"It is easy to say after the game that Alvaro Morata had to play, or Gerard should have played," he said after the Switzerland draw.

"But we felt that a number nine was not going to be necessary in the first half. We lacked when it came to the most difficult thing: scoring."

The cries for Morata to start through the middle may well grow louder should Spain once again fail to fire in Tuesday's decisive Nations League clash with Germany.

The Juventus striker laid on a lovely assist for Sergio Canales in last week's 1-1 friendly draw with the Netherlands, making it nine goal involvements in 10 outings this term.

Luis Enrique has insisted throughout all this that he should not be judged until after next year's rearranged Euro 2020 finals.

Having become the first Spain boss this century to go three games without a win, though, and with his side facing the prospect of once again missing out on the Nations League finals, a rethink may well be required while there is still time.

Sergio Ramos has no plans to step away from penalty duties for Spain despite missing two spot-kicks against Switzerland.

Ramos made his 177th international appearance, surpassing Italy great Gianluigi Buffon for the most by a European man, but marked the milestone with two penalty misses in a 1-1 Nations League draw on Saturday.

The defender had scored a remarkable 25 straight penalties for Spain and Real Madrid before his two misses.

Ramos, who skipped a news conference on Monday amid links to Paris Saint-Germain, said he would continue taking penalties.

"If there was another penalty of course that I would take, of course," he told Spain's media channels.

"If I didn't approach it that way, I would stop being me."

Spain host Germany in Seville on Tuesday, needing a win to finish top of Group A4 and reach the Nations League Finals.

Ramos, 34, said he was proud of his appearance record, and he dismissed any talk of retiring from internationals.

"It is a pride to surpass a legend like Buffon in caps. In the end, when you start you don't think you can get that high," he said.

"I have spent many hours running around here through the streets of Seville and there is a lot of effort behind it, perseverance and perseverance.

"In the end it is that. As long as I feel like it, I will continue. My head is in charge, and for now, it allows me."

Sergio Ramos can handle talk over his future at Real Madrid and has not allowed his contract situation to affect him while playing for Spain, according to Luis Enrique. 

Defender Ramos is in the final year of his deal with Madrid and negotiations between the two parties have reportedly stalled, leading to speculation he could be set to depart the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the 34-year-old, who pulled out of the scheduled national team news conference on Monday, Manchester City midfielder Rodri stepping in to replace his captain.

Ramos is preparing for Spain's pivotal Nations League clash with Germany on Tuesday, a game they must win if they are to leapfrog their rivals and qualify for the finals of the tournament. 

Head coach Luis Enrique has backed the centre-back to cope amid the growing pressure, something he has become accustomed to during his distinguished career for club and country. 

"Everything that is generated around Ramos is neither new, nor old, nor is it anything," the Spain boss told the media.  

"It is what it is and what it means to have a player of this level. It is normal that there is pressure around and you have to live with that. 

"If there is someone with enough experience to handle this personal situation it is Sergio Ramos.  

"He is well prepared, and I see him the same as the first day we arrived at the national team, his enthusiasm, his leadership. His face does not change at all and this is part of the things that a footballer should know how to carry."

Spain were only able to draw 1-1 away in Switzerland last time out, not helped by the usually reliable Ramos missing two penalties. 

Luis Enrique defended the player – who had scored his previous 25 attempts from the spot for club and country – in his post-match media conference, though it was again a topic of debate in Monday's preview session for the game in Seville. 

"I don't know if Sergio Ramos is the best penalty taker in the world," he replied when asked about Ramos' spot-kick role.  

"What I did defending Sergio after the game is what any coach would do of course. You have to know how to accept both versions of the story and nothing happens."

Ramos has played the most number of games (16) during Luis Enrique's time in charge, during which he is the leading scorer with nine goals.

He is also top of the charts across the same period when it comes to shots attempted (37), passes attempted (1,328) and also duels won (64), showing his all-round value to the team.

Page 1 of 9
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.