Luis Enrique lauded Spain “pillar” Sergio Busquets after his exploits in the country’s trophy-less Nations League Finals campaign.
Spain fell short in Sunday’s Nations League final, beaten 2-1 by reigning world champions France at San Siro in Milan.
Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe cancelled out Mikel Oyarzabal’s 64th-minute opener and while Spain were left emptyhanded, veteran captain Busquets produced another impressive display in the middle of the nation’s rebuilding project.
Busquets provided his 10th assist for Spain and first since November 2019 having teed up Oyarzabal, while the 33-year-old captain led the team in tackles (four) and total duels (17) after finishing with a 92.2 per cent passing accuracy – only bettered by Eric Garcia for La Roja.
10 – Sergio Busquets has provided his 10th assist for #Spain and the first one since November 2019, also to Mikel Oyarzabal against Rumanía. Momentum.#UEFANationsLeague #UEFANationsFinal pic.twitter.com/QPXljMe0of
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 10, 2021
“Busquets has been named the best player of the tournament. That says a lot about his level. He’s vital for us. He’s the captain, but not only that,” Luis Enrique said during his post-match news conference.
“He’s also somebody who gives some values off the pitch and on the pitch. He gives you calmness, quietness. He’s our pillar on which our defensive and attacking game are based.
“How much we’ve won, I don’t know, but I know we were able to win against the European champions and play almost evenly with the world champions, so for the players and the team, that is all good.
“And of course, every time it will be more difficult for me to make the next selection, and that is good for me and good for us. The important thing is the team maintains its personality and will to win.”
Spain ended the decider with 63.9 per cent possession and 624 passes, compared to France’s 354 total passes.
Luis Enrique’s Spain were left to rue a missed opportunity, having lost to eventual champions Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 semi-finals.
“Nothing was missing. It was a shame that once we scored that opening goal, that France went up the other end. It was a shame to concede when we just scored, because that’s when France were at their weakest. That’s the only regret we can have,” the former Barcelona boss added.
“What are we missing? We’re not missing anything at all. We still need to keep that same confidence, and we need to try press ahead with what we’ve been doing.”
“As usual, no matter who we’re playing against, Spain will always play its game,” Luis Enrique said. “Sometimes we play a bit better than other times, but that’s normal. But I think all fans would agree that Spain always plays the same way. No matter where, no matter against whom. So I am satisfied with what I have seen this tournament.”
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