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FOOTBALL

Evolution, not revolution key, says new Spain boss Enrique

New Spain coach Luis Enrique said on Thursday that no revolution would be needed as he promised fans to restore the 2010 world champions into a force to be feared.

Evolution, not revolution key, says new Spain boss Enrique
Luis Enrique was appointed Spain's new coach after they crashed out of the World Cup. Photo: AFP

Spain went into the 2018 World Cup as one of the favourites but coach Julen Lopetegui was fired on the eve of the tournament after agreeing terms with Real Madrid.

READ MORE: Spanish press blame ex-coach Lopetegui for World Cup exit

His replacement Fernando Hierro, in his first major coaching role, could only drive his multi-talented charges to a last-16 penalty shoot-out defeat to hosts Russia.

“There will be no revolution,” promised the former Barcelona boss. “It's a word I don't like too much.

“But we do need a certain level of evolution and changes need to be made.”   

“We shall continue in our own style, there is no doubt about that,” said the 48-year-old.

“But we need to defend better and concede fewer goals. We need to play with more depth and create more goal scoring chances.”   

The new coach said Spain had also suffered from their own success as other teams became aware of their style of play and how to defeat it.   

“When you become a point of reference everyone gets to know your style of play, your best players and how you move,” he explained.

Seventy players in mind   

Enrique took charge on July 9th and looks an assured choice after his achievements at Barcelona where he took over in 2014 after a poor season.   

In his first year, Barcelona won the Champions League, La Liga and the Spanish Cup.

Spain last won a competition at Euro 2012, where the side still boasting a Xavi-Andres Iniesta engine-room out-passed their rivals with the tika-taka style for which they were feared.

“We won everything but these latest results have been poor,” he said.   

“There are many things to put right,” said the former utility man who played 62 times for Spain himself.

He told reporters he had taken a starting point of observing some 70 players who would be potential internationals.   

His first squad of 22 will be unveiled in mid-August and unleashed in a match against England at Wembley on September 8th.   

“There will be a bit of everything with experienced players, some getting a recall or a second chance and newcomers all in there.”   

“What is past is past.”

By AFP's Adrien Vicente

READ ALSO: Who's to blame for Spain's World Cup failure?

 

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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