Change in attitude key for Enrique's Spain

September 13, 2018
Spain head coach Luis Enrique gives instructions to his players during the UEFA Nations League match between Spain and Croatia on Tuesday.

MADRID, Spain (AP):

After only two matches, Luis Enrique already knows the key to his early success as coach of Spain's national team.

Enrique said the team's approach in the impressive wins over England and Croatia in the UEFA Nations League is what made the difference for a revamped squad since he took over.

"What I liked the most in these 10 days was the players' attitude on and off the field," the former Barcelona coach said. "In only a few training sessions they were able to put our ideas into practice."

Enrique spoke after Spain's 6-0 rout of World Cup runner-up Croatia in the Nations League on Tuesday. Three days earlier, La Roja had come from behind to defeat England 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.

"It was a spectacular day. I couldn't have imagined it," Enrique said after the team overpowered Croatia. "But regardless of the score, what I saw in the players' attitude was what was important. With this level of efficiency and with this quality that we have in front of the goal, it will be very difficult to stop us."

Fans loudly chanted the coach's name during Tuesday's game in the southeastern Spanish city of Elche.

Enrique was announced as Spain's coach in July following the team's World Cup debacle, when the football federation fired Julen Lopetegui two days before the tournament and the team eventually was eliminated by hosts Russia in the round of 16.

His first contact with players came less than two weeks ago in training camp. He immediately imposed his energetic style in the practice sessions, and it translated on to the field in the first two matches.

Enrique had already taken action to bring the players together and build greater camaraderie within the group, including banning cell phones during meals so players could spend more time talking to each other. He also took the squad to an "escape room," where players had to work together to solve puzzles and try to break out.

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