Real Madrid: Luis Enrique made a serious mistake with his national team selection

Real Madrid, Nacho Fernandez (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Nacho Fernandez (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

On Monday, the 24th of May, Luis Enrique had announced his 24-man squad for the upcoming UEFA EURO 2020 to be held in the month of June and July. And the biggest surprise of the squad list was that not a single Real Madrid player was included. Sergio Ramos, the captain of the national team, and Nacho, who was expected to be called up, were both excluded by Luis Enrique.

I’ve once discussed how Real Madrid’s representation in La Roja has been decreasing in recent times, but it is shocking to see the worst fear of every Real Madrid fan coming true. It is really shocking to see that Nacho wasn’t even considered by Luis Enrique, in spite of the fact that the Spanish center-back had an amazing season in 2020/21.

When asked why no one was Real Madrid was called up, this was the Asturian manager’s answer in the press conference:

"“Two of the players like Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos who could be there, have not participated during the season. I do not make the list based on the number of players that may come from each club.”"

Dani Carvajal hasn’t recovered from his injury yet, and it makes a lot of sense to exclude him. But Ramos? He is the captain and the most experienced player in contention for a spot. Yes, I do agree that he hasn’t played much in 2021, but he is fit now. Though he might not be at his best due to the lack of match practice, he is still a top-class player and as a captain, he has that aura to influence the players around him. But surprisingly he has completely left out Ramos.

These words definitely prove another thing though. Nacho wasn’t even considered by Enrique for selection. And when asked about Nacho by a journalist, this was his answer:

"“There are three or four players that could be there, but the list is limited in number.”"

Yes, the list is limited, Mr. Enrique. But you’ve got to select players who are performing well at their club and have done enough to deserve a spot in the national team. And Nacho has done enough to prove his worth. Even when Luis Enrique visited the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano to watch the game between Real Madrid and Sevilla, Nacho had a great match.

According to WhoScored, Nacho has completed 1.5 tackles per 90 mins this season, along with 1.7 intercepts per 90 minutes, in the 2720 minutes he has played this season. With the ball at his feet, Nacho averages 2.6 successful long balls per 90 minutes, with a successful passing percentage of 89.8%.

Nacho is a brilliant ball carrier who loves to make bombing runs forward, and he is also someone who can easily thwart the press from the opposition with few simple but magical touches. He is highly versatile, having the ability to play as a fullback on both the flanks, besides being a rock-solid center-back. In short, he has been one of the best Spanish Center-backs this season and he could be a massive asset to any team he plays.

Luis Enrique’s selections have been really surprising

First of all, every nation has been given the opportunity of calling up 26 players for the Euros, due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation, and due to the increased amount of injuries due to tight scheduling and overload. But Enrique chose to call up only 24 players, citing the reason that only 23 players can be used, and three would have to sit out which wouldn’t have a great impact on the player. But Enrique has failed to realize the value of those spots during an injury crisis, given the amount of injury-prone players Spain currently has.

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Now let us have a look at the center-backs and full-backs he has picked while excluding Ramos and Nacho. Aymeric Laporte, who has recently changed his nationality to Spain, Pau Torres, Eric Garcia, and Diego Llorente has been called up by the Spanish manager. But some of the selections don’t make a lot of sense, because the reasons he has given for Ramos’ exclusion contradict his selections.

For the quality and consistency Pau Torres and Aymeric Laporte have shown at their respective clubs, they completely deserved the callups. But Diego Llorente and Eric Garcia’s selections are really baffling, considering their situations at Leeds United and Manchester City respectively.

Diego Llorente has had an injury-ridden season and amassed only 1205 minutes this season with Leeds United. And even while playing for Leeds, he wasn’t at his best, and initially struggled to adapt to life at the newly promoted but historic club. Even now he’s injured and comparing his case with someone like Nacho who has played around 2000 minutes in the league, it is really questionable.

And then there is Eric Garcia, whose selection has always been the talk of the town. He has never been a part of Pep Guardiola’s main setup of Manchester City this season, but Enrique sees something in the Barcelona-bound defender that he includes the 20-year-old in his squad for every break, despite his lack of match practice.

Eric Garcia has played just 360 minutes in all competitions this season and didn’t look great while playing, to be honest. Even Sergio Ramos, who has missed most of this calendar year due to injuries, has played more time than Garcia this year. Of course, there’s a difference between sitting on the bench but training and being injured. But the difference in quality and experience simply covers up for everything.

Sorry, Mr. Enrique, I don’t share the same viewpoint as you in the case of Garcia as I don’t see his selection justified. He is a decent defender and a skilled player with the ball at his feet, but none of this justifies why the manager chose Garcia over Nacho, whose consistency has been immense this season.

Some more decisions made by Luis Enrique do look questionable. He opted to leave out Iago Aspas, who has 14 goals and 13 assists to his name in LaLiga this season but chose Adama Traore, who has been very poor for wolves, having just 2 goals and 2 assists to his name this season.

Mario Hermoso, a regular starter for the LaLiga champions, has been left out while Inigo Martinez, who has been a regular in Spain since Pique’s retirement, hasn’t been considered. Saul Niguez has been left out as well, though his performances this season haven’t been up to the standards he set for himself.

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Luis Enrique’s selections have been highly questionable, and Nacho being neglected makes them even worse. The manager will have to bear complete responsibility for the selections. What’s coming up next isn’t any ordinary competition, it’s the UEFA EURO.