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Enrique fears no foe for World Cup title as Spain take on Japan

Luis Enrique insists Spain will not take any chances by trying to engineer a specific result against Japan in an attempt to avoid Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Spain’s coach Luis Enrique (L) talks with players during a training session at the Qatar University training ground in Doha on November 30, 2022, on the eve of the Qatar 2022 World Cup football match between Japan and Spain. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Luis Enrique insists Spain will not take any chances by trying to engineer a specific result against Japan in an attempt to avoid Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals.

La Roja face Samurai Blue today knowing a victory will secure top spot in Group E and set up a last-16 clash with the runners-up from Group F.

But that would also put them on track to play the Selecao in the last eight.

Trying to avoid Brazil has been a topic of much debate during Spain’s media duties in the past few days, and Luis Enrique even confessed to discussing the situation with his team.

But trying to manipulate a result that would see Spain finish second is far too risky for Luis Enrique’s liking.

“Great question, we’ve wondered about this and reflected on it. From a professional point of view, we are only thinking of winning because the four teams can qualify,” he said.

“We want to be first, we cannot and should not speculate. It’s very human to talk about it, we have done it, but it’s useless to choose.

“Imagine, we reach minute 95, we are drawing 0-0, we are winners of the group. But then just before full-time, Costa Rica and Japan score. You’ve speculated the entire game and then in the last 15 seconds you concede. That’s it and you’re out.

“If you’re convinced your team is a good one (you try to win). We’re here to win seven games.

“Your theory is Brazil (in the quarter-finals). Let’s play Brazil. We can’t start with these estimations.

“We try to put up a fight – it doesn’t matter who we’re playing in the round of 16 or quarter-finals.

“If we play Brazil in the quarters, well so be it… We must beat Japan – elite sport and speculation don’t compute, or we don’t understand it that way. Being first would mean that we have been better.

“To win a World Cup you have to win against everyone who comes your way. That’s our goal.”

In fact, Luis Enrique went on to suggest he would welcome facing Brazil in the quarter-finals, even if it meant a trickier route to the final for La Roja.

“I hope to play against Brazil. It will mean that we have both reached the quarter-finals,” he continued.