The call-ups from Luis Enrique are always surrounded by controversy. Specially this one ahead of the two Nations League games against Switzerland and Portugal, as it is the last one before the Qatar World Cup.
A debate that always arises among the fans is the defense. There are plenty of candidates on the table that in the end never make it to the squad. This time, Luis Enrique has decided to call up Carvajal, Azpilicueta, Diego Llorente, Eric García, Jordi Alba, Pau Torres, Gayá y Hugo Guillamón.
Eric García is one of the names that always earns all the spotlights. Both Xavi, who coaches him at Barcelona, and Luis Enrique, have confidence on his qualities as a central defender, even though several recent mistakes with the national team put him in the center of critics from some people.
We must also make a difference between those who criticize Eric García by being opportunists just for playing for Barcelona to those who do it objectively by being skeptical with his strengths and only focusing on his weaknesses. His profile is certainly too far away from the defensive standards, as he is shorter than others and better with the ball on his feet than without it.
Eric García proposes and his teammates carry it out:
The arrival of new additions on defense such as Koundé or Christensen has not made Eric García to lose playing time. He is still a key piece for Barça’s system and he has started in five out of their six first games in LaLiga so far. Xavi was more conservative in the Champions League against Bayern Munich and chose Christensen in order to strengthen the defense. Then he put Eric García in the 70th minute and trailing by two goals in order to attempt a comeback that never came.
Eric García is a central defender who is able to break lines through his passes and link directly with the offensive squad. He proposes through his passes, finds the best teammates to play the ball to and facilitates creating scoring chances. He has the abilities of a central defender but playing from backwards.
Eric García keeps also improving on his defense, specially by pressing forward and being more effective in the 1vs1 dues. He has found the perfect context at his club in order to suffer less backwards thanks to Araújo, as they both have each others backs. Eric García takes the lead with the ball and Araújo steps up to defend. For now, they have become Xavi’s most reliable defensive partners.
This advantage through passing is exactly what Luis Enrique is looking for at the national team. Spain’s main goal must be to propose and so for that they need a player profile like Eric García. The opponents will display different playing styles and the game context will cal for being more conservative or to go for the risk. That is what the coach is here for.
When making a national team call up is not just about bringing the best names, but also making them fit into your playing style idea and knowing what they can contribute to it. Another recurrent controversy is the no call-up of Iago Aspas. Luis Enrique was clear on his explanation: “The context in the Spanish National Team is very different, as here we all play for each other“.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @SEFutbol.