Spain manager Luis Enrique issued a rallying cry to supporters ahead of their decisive World Cup qualifier against Sweden, calling on them to get behind the team even if things do not go to plan in Sunday’s match in Seville.
La Roja need a point from their showdown with Sweden to finish top of Group B and are set to play in front of 60,000 fans at La Cartuja stadium.
“I have no doubt that with a packed stadium in our favour they will be weaker, and we will be stronger,” Luis Enrique told a news conference on Saturday.
“Now we need our supporters to be on our side for the entire game, even if we struggle. Because it will be a very difficult game.”
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After Spain’s 1-0 victory in Greece and Sweden’s surprise 2-0 defeat in Georgia on Thursday, Spain leads Group B with 16 points, one ahead of Sweden, which needs to win to secure automatic qualification.
The runner-up will head into the playoffs in March.
“The pressure is the same as it was before Greece,” Enrique said.
“Our objective is still the same: win both games… we will enter the pitch on Sunday with an aggressive winning mentality. We will play to win, no matter what the numbers say.”
The manager expects Sweden to pack its defence and look to hit Spain on the counter and he wants his team to be more clinical.
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There are doubts over Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s availability for Sweden following recent injury problems, but Luis Enrique said its opponent’s gameplan would not depend on its striker’s fitness.
“We deserved to win the first game against them in Sweden, but in football there is no meritocracy,” Luis Enrique said.
“The merit is scoring goals and we need to do that. They have a lot of speed upfront and playing Zlatan or not won’t make their gameplan. But of course having a player with his profile is a major boost in quality for any team.”