Despite losing his place at Barcelona, Jordi Alba has made it into the Spanish World Cup squad and is likely to start too.
The Barcelona veteran has been involved in just 12 of Barcelona’s 20 games this season, starting nine of them. So far Xavi Hernandez has preferred Alejandro Balde over the 33-year-old, but Luis Enrique Martinez has retained the faith in Alba for the national side.
Following the announcement of the Spain squad, Luis Enrique, tongue slightly in cheek, called himself the best coach on the face of the earth, as a response to the press asking whether he was doubting himself or his ideas.
Speaking in an interview for Mundo Deportivo, Alba backed up that claim, in all seriousness.
“I already know him from Barcelona. He is a direct person, who trusts the players a lot. For me, I have always said, he is the best coach in the world. Not only on the football field, but also in a human sense. He is very close and helps all his teammates, and that is important for all the players and for me.”
It is often forgotten that Luis Enrique and Alba also had a period where they didn’t see eye-to-eye, and the latter was not selected for Spain for a full year.
“He has a lot of personality. That is very important in a coach: that he expresses his idea and that all the players move in the same direction. It is something very difficult and he has achieved it in all the teams he has been in. We all follow what he tells us. At that, he is the best.”
It is fair to say that no Spain side since the Euro 2012 winners looks as united or as committed to their manager as this one.
Alba was also asked about the heavy criticism that Luis Enrique still receives and whether he thought it was because the Asturian was most closely associated with Barcelona.
“I don’t think he cares about that. Criticism today is the most normal thing in the world. Not only in Barcelona, but also at any team. Luis Enrique in that sense, has been cured of any fear. Both him and all the players.”
In the age of the cult of personality, Luis Enrique is taking full advantage of that factor. His indomitable spirit and belief in both his players and himself has clearly won over the Spain squad. It is perhaps the least talented Spain side to go to a major tournament in several years, yet many feel that if things fall their way, they can compete with anyone.