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The ‘casting’ of the nine | The mail

Ferran Torres, celebrating a goal with the Spanish team. / Julio Muñoz (Efe)

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Private of Gerard Moreno and Morata, Luis Enrique will have to improvise a forward without a ‘killer’ of reference

Óscar Bellot

Although the numbers are no longer what they were in that ancient football in which they denoted positions and reflected hierarchies within the dressing room, the list of numbers assigned to the 23 cited by Luis Enrique for the ‘final four’ of the League of Nations is illustrative of the new times that run for La Roja. With Gerard Moreno and Álvaro Morata licking their war wounds in the infirmary, the ‘9’ has fallen on Gavi Páez, who debuts with Yéremi Pino in a call-up of the Spanish team and also has the possibility of converting, to his tender 17 years old, the youngest debutant in the long history of the national team. In any case, no one is aware that the promising talent of La Masia is not called to play the role that traditionally corresponded to the figure that he will wear on his shirt. The logical thing is that this function is performed rather by Mikel Oyarzabal, Ferran Torres or even Pablo Sarabia.

Accustomed to acting as wingers or hooks in their clubs, this time some of them will have to experience as a false nine, that heterodox figure who made his fortune in Johan Cruyff’s Barça and in Pep Guardiola’s.

In the national team, Vicente del Bosque successfully cultivated it in the 2012 Eurocup, where the man from Salamanca alternated games in which he awarded the role of center forward to Fernando Torres with others in which he envied Cesc as an offensive reference with great mobility so that the centrals did not have a fixed mark. The performance of the then Barça footballer in that position was, for example, decisive in achieving the tie against Italy with which La Roja began its journey in that tournament that ended up being awarded by beating the Nazionale in the final held at the Olympic in Kiev , already with Fernando Torres marking the step up.

Countdown to rugged Spain in search of revenge

Luis Enrique also likes that figure of the false nine, which he has used on several occasions throughout his 27 games as a Spanish coach. One of them, without going any further, in the semifinals of the recent European Championship against Italy. Then he started with Dani Olmo as the offensive vertex. Although Spain was left unmarked in the first half, the Leipzig footballer caused many headaches to the transalpine rear by moving between the lines, where he was indecipherable for Bonucci, Chiellini and Jorginho in many phases of the match, and assisted Morata in the goal that put the tie, before La Roja fell in the penalty shootout.

Without the Catalan, a similar role could correspond to Ferran Torres (9 goals in 20 international appearances), Oyarzabal (5 goals in 19 games) or Sarabia (4 goals in 12 games).

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