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De la Fuente replaces Luis Enrique at the helm of the national team

De La Fuente, in a sub’21 game.

The until now U-21 coach replaces the Asturian and assumes the challenge of refloating the team after the failure in Qatar

Spain has a new coach. The Spanish Federation has not wanted to prolong the uncertainty and after announcing the goodbye of Luis Enrique has announced almost immediately the promotion of Luis de la Fuente, until now U-21 coach. The Asturian leaves less than 48 hours after the defeat in the round of 16 against Morocco and the feeling of failure in the World Cup. He does so with the thanks of the RFEF, who bid him farewell with honours, but with the desire to start a new stage.

De la Fuente, the discreet technician

De la Fuente takes over on the bench after imposing the most continuous and pacifying option, although not without risk. Along the way, the tracks of Marcelino and Roberto Martínez remained. The new coach was tested as soon as it was known that the renewal of Luis Enrique was already an impossible matter. He, as always, made himself available to the house. It is a major challenge, but he has never shied away from difficulties. He has never trained in the First Division or in the Second Division, but at the head of the lower categories he has amply demonstrated his worth.

De la Fuente (Haro, 61 years old), joined the Federation in 2012 after working hard on the Athletic subsidiary bench and coaching Alavés for a short period of time. He started with the under-19 team, which he made European champion in 2019. In that team were, among others, Unai Simón, Rodri, Mikel Merino, Ceballos and Marco Asensio. He also went through the sub-18 before taking charge of the sub-21 in the summer of 2018. A year later he repeated his success, achieving the Eurocup in the category. Unai Simón was once again on his squad, and also Dani Olmo, Oyarzábal, Fornals, Mikel Merino, Carlos Soler, Fabián… Last year he also took over the leadership of the Olympic team at the Tokyo Games, where they won the medal silver after only losing in the final against Brazil. He had a good part of the backbone of the team that has participated in the World Cup.

That is, perhaps, the main virtue of the new coach. His extensive knowledge of the players who must shape the future of Spain. The vast majority have passed through his hands and know his character, his strengths and weaknesses and his ability to perform.

Educated and calm, De la Fuente is a man of deep religious convictions, very sensitive and committed to all social causes. His arrival on the bench also means a change in the relationship between the media and the head of the national team. A stage of moderation is coming. With the press he is close and friendly. Athletic, where he played eight seasons, is his downfall. His body also betrays his love for the sport. He practices it regularly, almost obsessively.

De la Fuente will make his debut on the bench next March, coinciding with the start of the qualifying phase for Euro 2024. The first game will be on March 25, with Erling Haaland’s Norway as a rival. De la Fuente will debut at home. Three days later (March 28) he will travel to Scotland to play the second game.

The next challenge will be in June. Spain will play the title of the Nations League in the Netherlands against the host team, Croatia and Italy. The draw for the semifinals will be in January.

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