Spain boss Luis Enrique is reportedly under pressure to drop Barcelona defender Jordi Alba ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
According to El Nacional, many assumed that the former Valencia full-back would not make the national squad due to his lack of game time at club level.’
The legendary left-back has started just two games this season and appears to be the Blaugrana’s second-choice. Youngster Alejandro Balde has made a huge impact on the team. While Alba has played only 126 minutes in three league appearances, Balde has played 386 minutes across five league games, providing three assists.
Xavi believes Baldé and Marcos Alonso are ahead of Jordi Alba right now for what he wants for his team.
Luis Enrique believes Jordi Alba is ahead of Baldé and Marcos Alonso right now for what he wants for his team.
Xavi Hernandez appears to have lost faith in his former teammate Alba following his disastrous performance against Rayo Vallecano. On the opening day of the season, Barcelona drew 0-0 against Rayo, with Alba starting at left-back.
Enrique is now under pressure to drop the experienced full-back, who has earned 85 Spain caps. The player and manager do not have the greatest relationship, as the pair fell out during Enrique’s spell in charge of Barcelona.
Jose Gaya, who has been in sparkling form for Valencia this season, is many people’s preferred choice to start in Qatar.
José Gayà (Valencia): “I get along very well with Jordi Alba. We’ve been friends for a long time. I see him eager and encouraging his teammates. He’s an exemplary captain here.” [via md]
Luis Enrique denies Spain have called up Nico Williams to prevent him playing for Ghana
Athletic Blibao winger Nico Williams has earned his first call-up for Spain after scoring twice in his first six games for the La Liga side this season.
His brother Inaki, who has started 239 consecutive games for the Basque club, pledged his allegiance to Ghana ahead of this year’s FIFA World Cup. But Enrique has denied calling up the younger Williams brother to secure his Spanish future and prevent him from switching to the African nation.
The manager told a press conference (as per The Guardian):
“I’m not doing this to stop him going with Ghana; he’s young and a very interesting player. He’s playing more often with Athletic [Bilbao] now. He’s progressing wonderfully. I like him enormously. We’ve had him in the junior squad and have been following him for a long time.
I reckon the family will be delighted: imagine the party if they both go to the World Cup. And they reach the final, well, that would be the absolute business.”
Spain are fancied as one of the favorites for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar and have been drawn in Group E alongside Germany, Costa Rica and Japan. The 2010 champions haven’t won a knockout game in the tournament since they beat the Netherlands in the final in South Africa 12 years ago.