Luis Enrique has no doubts about the quality of his Spain team but accepts their Nations League final opponents France have the best collection of individuals in international football. Spain defeated European champions Italy in their semi-final on Wednesday, ending the Azzurri's world-record 37 match unbeaten run in the process.
World champions France await in the finale, with Didier Deschamps' men having come from 2-0 down to beat Belgium 3-2, which was the first time they had reversed a two-goal deficit since May 2012. Spain's starting XI last time out was the youngest (average age of 26.8 years) of the four teams involved in the Nations League semis, and prior to their win over Italy, Luis Enrique had the impression they were most people's outside bets for the trophy.
But he relished causing something of an upset and believes they are capable of doing so again. He told reporters: "I am convinced that we are going to have a great game and that we are going to put France in difficulty. I don't know if it will be enough to win us, but for us it is a very great encouragement. In the semi-finals we were the underdogs of the four teams and we turned that feeling around. Now we will try to do the same against the best team in the world – at an individual level, without a doubt.
"We are going to defend as we always do, by taking risks and playing face-to-face, trying to make sure that the only ball on the field is Spain's." La Roja have certainly done a reasonable job in that respect in previous Nations League games, given they have had the most shots (126), shots on target (46), the best passing success (90.8 per cent) and best average possession (67.7 per cent) in this edition of the competition.
Luis Enrique still thinks they can get better, though. "We still have the trump card of being a team," he continued. "We can still be a better team, we can still improve our performance. This is a wonderful sport that rewards those who play the best, we will try to be better than them collectively and make it happen." But that is not to say Luis Enrique is underestimating the weapons France possess, with their front three of Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann – who is one match away from becoming only the ninth Les Bleus centurion – capable of doing damage.
"The power and quality of their front three is indisputable," Luis Enrique added. "They are very good and capable of deciding any match based on their individual quality. "But we are not going to change one iota of what has brought us here, our ambition, our conviction and our quality."
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