Spain coach Luis Enrique took full responsibility for his side’s shock World Cup exit at the hands of Morocco on Tuesday night at Qatar’s Education City Stadium.
Although Spain dominated possession and held Morocco back for long periods of control and 120 minutes of extra time, the match ended 0-0 and went to penalties, with Spain having two attempts saved by Yassine Bounou and one from the post before Achraf. Hakimi scored the winning goal for the African side.
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“The responsibility is mine,” said Enrique after the match. “I chose the first three penalty takers, who I thought were the best players on the pitch. We didn’t get to the fourth. Bounou is a fantastic goalkeeper at this point; he has and more percentages to the right. way. He was great.”
It was the second time in as many World Cups that Spain had been eliminated in the shootout – they lost to hosts Russia from the stage in 2018 – and the former Barcelona boss was left in tears at the impossibility. when his team makes a large number of possessions. .
“Football is a very good, passionate game, but a team can win without attacking,” said Enrique. “Morocco attacked once or twice and it was dangerous, but we completely controlled the game and tried to create.
“We would have liked to create more. It was difficult for us. We had 11 shots, I think, but few on target. At the end of the game Pablo Sarabia hit the post. The penalty was difficult for us. But I’m proud of my players.”
Spain fielded the third-youngest squad at the World Cup, with Gavi, 18, and Pedri, who turned 20 during the tournament, showing maturity beyond their years in midfield. team, while 20-year-old strikers Ansu Fati and Nico Williams looked full of potential coming off the bench.
However, Enrique was honest in his final assessment of the result, as he spoke about his future as national team manager.
“We have to congratulate the winners,” said Enrique. “They played their game, it turned out well, they were better than us in the penalty shootout. I think the kids have to learn to lose, whether you deserve it or not.
“Now I can’t wait to get home and see my family and my dogs and be with them. I think starting next week, when the president goes on. [Luis Rubiales] it takes time, we will talk about what the future may bring. Now that doesn’t mean anything to me, because we need to model this sadness and deal with it in the best possible way. “
Veteran Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets also speculated on what the loss would have been like and said deciding the game from the penalty spot was always a 50-50 proposition after see one of his games rejected by Bounou.
“We wanted to continue [in the competition],” Busquets said. “I think we did well, it was a tough, physical game; as time went on we found more places, and overtime it was the same. We even had the opportunity of Sarabia, which is a shame, and then it was penalties in the most brutal way.
“It was difficult for us. We tried to tire them, to find spaces. Sometimes we could, and we lacked luck, the last ball or the finish.
“It’s always heads or tails [with penalties]. We missed the first three penalties and it’s very difficult. “
Spain, who won the World Cup in 2010, have now failed to reach the quarter-finals in four of their last five appearances.