El Centrocampista

LEFT BACK HOME – Why can’t José Enrique get a game for Spain?

By Archie Buck

The Spain squad for the upcoming friendlies against England and Costa Rica was announced on Monday, with Vicente Del Bosque causing few surprises. 

It is a little over three years since Spain won the European Championship in Austria and Switzerland, and the squad is still very similar – in fact 14 of the players who went to the Championship are included.

In some sense it’s surprising, but such consistency has so far proved to be successful.

In comparison the England squad contains four players yet to make their international debuts and 10 players that haven’t reached double figures yet.

In total the Spanish squad have 1094 caps between them, the English a meagre 490.

One player who has been disappointed yet again however, is Liverpool’s Jose Enrique.

The Spaniard is a relatively new acquisition for the Reds after joining in the summer from Newcastle United, but has hit the ground running at Anfield.

Yet the 25-year-old has again been overlooked by Del Bosque, leaving many wondering what the player has to do to break into the national squad.

Left back is arguably Spain’s weakest position and one which is the main topic of conversation whenever the national side is mentioned.

First choice is currently Alvaro Arbeloa, coincidentally another player who really came to prominence while at Liverpool, but he is really a right back who is just filling in.

The other potential left backs in the squad are Jordi Alba and Nacho Monreal. Jordi Alba looks to be a promising talent, at 22 he has a lot of potential to come and some scintillating attacking performances this season or Valencia have seen him attract the interest of many clubs, including Manchester United.

With Valencia his role has evolved into a far more attacking position. In fact he has played left midfield at times interchanging with Jeremy Mathieu, another player comfortable in both midfield and defence. Whether he is a future Spanish left back is up for debate, but he could easily operate further up the pitch at left midfield and it is possible that that is where his future lies.

Monreal is currently plying his trade at Malaga after a summer move from Osasuna. His time in Andalucia has been disappointing however, and he is yet to cement himself as first choice left back,with the Portuguese Eliseu getting equally as much game time.

In comparison Jose Enrique has played every minute of Liverpool’s season and has quickly won over the Anfield faithful with a string of impressive performances. Though not as impressive in attack as Alba, he is hard-working and has shown he can get forward when he needs to.

There have been suggestions that Del Bosque feels the player would not fit into Spain’s style of play, however a left back is there to defend, anything on top of that is a bonus and compared to Arbeloa, Alba and Monreal he is arguably the strongest in terms of defensive ability.

He is also physically impressive. It is hard to think of many better athletes in the game in terms of pace and power, this was something which he worked on while at Newcastle.

Although his team have struggled with inconsistency so far this season, Enrique has been in fantastic form and many people now believe he should be given his chance for la furia roja.

It is probably a little far-fetched to call the left-back role, Spain’s problem position, but it is one that has raised a few questions and Enrique has shown signs that he at least deserves a chance. Playing in arguably the most competitive league in the world he has also shown he can hold his own at the highest level.

With Euro 2012 looming Del Bosque will soon begin finalising his squad for next year’s trip to Poland and the Ukraine and with Enrique again left out of the squad for the upcoming friendlies, it looks as though the chance to represent his country is becoming more and more unlikely.



  1. sib

    9 November, 2011 at 12:15

    Obviously I am biased being a LFC season ticket holder, but Enrique has been absolutely superb for Liverpool this season.
    Spain should really look no further.

  2. Jack

    9 November, 2011 at 12:29

    Utter rubbish slb. The problem with Enrique is that he lacks the final pass. That alone is a major flaw. Until he learns to deliver a consistently high quality of final passes, Enrique will always be outside looking in where his national team is concerned.

  3. AK

    9 November, 2011 at 12:36

    Check if he has an English grandad

  4. Mike

    9 November, 2011 at 14:51

    Im with jack on this one Enrique is second rate, and Sib was you pushing his name forward last season? Thought not!

  5. Iain McMullen

    9 November, 2011 at 15:13

    Of all the candidates I think Jordi Alba is the most likely to take the spot in the long term, although as Archie says, he may feature in a more advanced role.
    Natxo Monreal was great for Osasuna last season but has almost sunk without a trace since moving to Malaga.

  6. sib

    9 November, 2011 at 15:20


    No I was not pushing him forward last year. I had not seen enough of him to make a judgement.

    But having seen him first hand every week in a Liverpool shirt, (like I saw Arbeloa remember) he is a much better player than I anticipated.
    Enrique is fast, reads the game well, very rarely lets crosses get past him or gets beaten by a winger, is good in the air, and equally links well going forward. His final pass has never been an issue, and he has looked really comfortable on the ball.

    Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but if you guys think he is second rate, you really cannot have watched him closely this season.

  7. Archie

    9 November, 2011 at 16:23

    I think it’s harsh to call him 2nd rate, but don’t get me wrong I’m also not claiming he’s an amazing player. Just that when you look at what left backs Spain have available to them it is a surprise that he has never been given a shot at the national team.

    On the distribution(final pass) point, I don’t think you can really rule him out due to that because that is also something that Arbeloa lacks.

  8. Jafar

    9 November, 2011 at 21:35

    LB the weakest position I very much doubt that.
    Spain have Vila Didac,Jordi Alba,Jose Angel,Enrique and Monreal if anything Spain have the best set of LBs in the world just like any other position with the exception of the Villa role.
    Enrique has been one of the better players in Liverpool but with Jordi Alba’s performances this season I can’t see him becoming more than second choice. Valencia only conceded once for the left side this season.
    Also I very much disagree with playing Jordi in the more advance position, the reason being Mathieu a natural LB plays more often the advance role and Alba plays as LB. Alba has too much energy and is too good in defence, there aren’t many players with the same consistency and stamina and there even less players that are as fast as him. Even when Alba is out of position he is fast enough to recover. Playing him in a more advance position is a bit of a waste a lot of his abilities are not being used. Enrique isn’t as fast as Alba and doesn’t have as much stamina so he instead might play the more advance position like Mathieu, but personally I’d prefer Didac as his crosses are better again like Mathieu. But with players like Mata and Muniain your not really going to do that. Enrique is a very good player but he is just unlucky that Spain have so many good players. And he does deserve at least one call up but so do a lot more especially Soldado and I have the stats to prove why he should be chosen ahead of Nergedo at any moment and that he should be able to match Torres during his best days. Soldado has the best goal to minute ratio in the history of CL(since 1992).

  9. bikram

    18 November, 2012 at 21:38

    utter bull final pass did anyone see his assits to suarez agianst sunderland newcastle and wigan were e scored and the game befor that he got man of the match mybe alba is better however he should atleasst be on the sub for spain for a second let back

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