Soccer-Luis Enrique urges all Spain players to be leaders against Sweden


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Spain Press Conference - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - June 3, 2021 Spain coach Luis Enrique during the press conference REUTERS/Sergio Perez

SEVILLE, Spain (Reuters) - Spain coach Luis Enrique believes his young side do not need lionheart figures for inspiration and said their strength is in their group mentality as they prepare to kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Sweden on Monday.

With Sergio Ramos left out of the squad due to fitness problems and captain Sergio Busquets ruled out of the opening game due to testing positive for COVID-19, Spain will have no obvious figure to galvanise them against Sweden.

"This team doesn't need leadership, there's 23 players who can provide that," Luis Enrique told a news conference on Sunday from Seville's La Cartuja stadium.

"I'm also one of the leaders, for better or worse. Every coach should be a leader but in this team, everyone should lead from the pitch. They have to get that from themselves. But our strength is our group and we're well prepared."

Stand-in captain Jordi Alba and Busquets are the only surviving members from Spain's golden generation that won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 but Luis Enrique said he was thinking about starting afresh when he named his squad.

"Time waits for no-one and no player is eternal, but I wasn't thinking about restructuring the team, I was only thinking about which players would adapt to my ideas. But I think we have a good mix of youth and experience," he said.

The coach also played down the upheaval his side had faced due to Busquets' and Diego Llorente's positive tests, which forced the team to halt group training for a week.

"Recent events haven't altered my plan," he said. "I've had a very clear plan for a long time, although coaches always have to adapt to circumstances. We may not be able to count upon our captain but I have a very squad and I'm delighted with it.

"Sweden is a team that plays in a very direct way and has very strong players, with pace and quality. They will play lots of long balls and it won't be easy but we'll try and play an intense game."

(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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