MADRID – Spain coach Luis Enrique is brimming with confidence about his ability to lead the Spaniards to a second World Cup title at the 2022 tournament in Qatar, 12 years on from their first triumph.
After announcing his 26-man World Cup squad on Friday, the former Barcelona coach said he had never had any doubts about whether he was the best man for the job.
“How can I doubt myself? I am the best coach on the face of the earth,” he said on Friday.
“If I have to convince my players I have to be convinced myself… There is no better coach than me. I know it’s not true, but I believe it. Doubts? None!”
Spain included Barca’s Ansu Fati but left out veterans like Paris Saint-Germain defender Sergio Ramos, Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara, Barcelona wing-back Marcos Alonso and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea from their 26-man World Cup squad as they put their faith in a new generation.
Fati was called up despite the 20-year-old Barcelona forward not used in September’s Nations League clashes and has not been at his best for his club this season.
He has four caps for his country and one goal, and has spent the best part of the last two seasons on the sidelines because of repeated knee injuries.
It is a risk worth taking, according to Enrique, who led Spain to the European Championship semi-finals and Nations League final in 2021 with a team aged on average just over 25.
He added: “Compete in every game. There is no team that rules out Spain as a favourite. We are going to fight and try to play all seven games.
“There is no doubt that you are going to see Spain trying to control the game and dominate our rivals. That is going to be our game.
Athletic Bilbao forward Nico Williams and Valencia defender Hugo Guillamon were also selected, along with Villarreal winger Yeremy Pino.
Enrique has been criticised in the past for not calling up Real Madrid players, but Los Blancos pair Dani Carvajal and Marco Asensio were included.
Spain resume training on Monday and will travel the next day to Amman, where they will face Jordan in a friendly ahead of their World Cup opener against Costa Rica on Nov 23.
They will also face Germany and Japan in Group E. 
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, meanwhile, included injured Barcelona forward Memphis Depay and uncapped teenager Xavi Simons in his 26-man squad, but left out veteran goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
Depay has not played since limping off during the Netherlands’ Nations League match against Poland on Sept 22, and has played less than 150 minutes for Barcelona this season.
But van Gaal had already said his top scorer would be certain of a place as long as there was a chance of him playing during the tournament.
Simons, 19, has made a strong impression since his move from PSG to PSV Eindhoven this summer, scoring eight goals in 13 league matches.
Van Gaal sprung a surprise in goal by leaving out 33-year-old Cillessen, who rejoined his old club NEC Nijmegen from Valencia this summer in the hope of reviving his international career.
The Dutch are in Group A with hosts Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal. AFP, REUTERS
Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), Robert Sanchez (Brighton), David Raya (Brentford)
Defenders: Jose Gaya (Valencia), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Eric Garcia (Barcelona), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Hugo Guillamon (Valencia), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Rodri (Manchester City), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Gavi (Barcelona), Pedri Gonzalez (Barcelona), Carlos Soler (PSG)
Forwards: Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Pablo Sarabia (PSG), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Ferran Torres (Barcelona), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Yeremy Pino (Villarreal)
Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Andries Noppert (Heerenveen), Remko Pasveer (Ajax Amsterdam)
Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munchen), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United), Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan)
Midfielders: Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta Bergamo), Marten de Roon (Atalanta Bergamo), Xavi Simons (PSV Eindhoven), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax)
Forwards: Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Barcelona), Cody Gakpo (PSV), Vincent Janssen (Antwerp), Luuk de Jong (PSV), Noah Lang (Club Brugge), Wout Weghorst (Besiktas)
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MCI (P) 076/10/2022, MCI (P) 077/10/2022. Published by SPH Media Limited, Co. Regn. No. 202120748H. Copyright © 2022 SPH Media Limited. All rights reserved.

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