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German pass masters will test Spain’s possession game, says Luis Enrique

fifa world cup qatar 2022 group e spain v costa rica
Spain coach Luis Enrique with Sergio Busquets

Spain could be given a taste of their own medicine when they take on Germany in a potentially decisive clash at the World Cup on Sunday because both European heavyweights seek to control games by dominating possession, Spain coach Luis Enrique said.

“Without a doubt, they are the team that is most similar to Spain in terms of dominating the play and controlling it. That is a beautiful challenge for us,” Luis Enrique told reporters on Saturday. “I think it will be an open game.”

Spain thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening match in Qatar on Wednesday when their fluid passing left the Central Americans pinned deep in their own half for much of the game.

“A big win like that creates confidence but we can’t go into the game over-confident,” Luis Enrique said.

Germany, by contrast, suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Japan in Group E, prompting reporters to ask the Spain coach if he was worried about the risk of a desperate German fight-back in the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday night.

If Japan draw or beat Costa Rica earlier on Sunday, a defeat for Germany could send the four-time world champions crashing out of the World Cup at the group stage for the second tournament in a row after their ignominious exit in Russia in 2018.

“Will Germany be more dangerous because they need the win more? You never know in football,” Luis Enrique said.

Spain thrashed Germany 6-0 when they last met in November 2020 in the UEFA Nations League, but the former Real Madrid and Barcelona player, who went on to coach Barcelona, warned against any complacency.

Striker Dani Olmo, speaking at the same news conference, said Spain would not be distracted by the high stakes facing their rivals and would go for the win that would qualify them for the knockout phase with a game to spare.

“Of course they are under pressure because they need to win after the loss against Japan, but we know Germany is one of the best national teams in the world and you cannot put them down after one game,” Olmo – who plays his club football in Germany for Leipzig – said.

“It will be a final for them. They need to win to have a possibility to be in the next round, but if we win we will be through also, so we will go for the win.”

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