Another day, another upset in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It was a massive one on Tuesday, though, as 2010 champions Spain were shockingly knocked out of the competition after a stunning Round of 16 loss to underdog side Morocco. The game went scoreless after extra time and had to be decided by penalties. Spain failed to find the net in just three attempts from the spot, thereby allowing their opponents to qualify for the next round.
It was a heartbreaking sight for Spanish fans to watch their players take in the defeat after a hard-fought battle — one wherein Spain dominated the match and created the most chances. In the end, however, it did not matter at all with Morocco now headed to the quarterfinals.
Spanish manager Luis Enrique spoke out after the loss and the Barcelona legend was quick to take the blame for his side’s unexpected loss:
“The responsibility is mine,” Enrique said, via ESPN. “I chose the first three penalty takers, who were those I thought were the best specialists on the pitch. We didn’t even get to the fourth. Bounou is a spectacular goalkeeper in this aspect; he has a high percentage in going the right way. He was great.”
Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler, and Sergio Busquets were the first three penalty-takers for Spain. All three players missed their pens, with two of them being saved by a spectacular Yassine Bounou, and a third agonizingly hitting the post. Morocco, on the other hand, scored in three out of their four attempts from the penalty spot.
Enrique admitted after the match that he was disappointed by how his team failed to take their chances when they had them. Spain had more than a few opportunities to score during the 120 minutes. They had 77% of the possession, creating no less than 13 shots on goal. However, only one of them was on target.
“Football is a marvelous, passionate sport, but a team can win without attacking,” Enrique said. “Morocco attacked once or twice and were dangerous, but we dominated the game completely, and tried to create.
“We would have liked to create more. It was hard for us. We had 11 shots, I think, but few on goal. In the final move of the game Pablo Sarabia hit the post. The penalty shootout was hard for us. But I’m proud of my players.”
When asked about his future as the national team’s coach, Luis Enrique was defective in his response:
“Right now I’m looking forward to getting home to see my family and my dogs and be with them. I suppose that from next week, when the president [Luis Rubiales] considers it timely, we’ll talk about what the future can bring. Right now that means nothing to me, because we need to assimilate this disappointment and deal with it in the best way.”
The wounds are obviously still very fresh at this point, and Enrique is clearly not yet ready to discuss what lies ahead for Spain. He’s going to take some time off before meeting with management. They will then likely come to a mutual decision if he will still be the right man for the job moving forward.