Luis Enrique hails flawless start as Spain thrash Croatia 6-0

The Spain squad all huddle after training ahead of their game with Croatia on Tuesday

Elche native Saul Niguez scored the night's first goal in the 24th minute with a leaping header off Dani Carvajal's long diagonal cross that bounced past Croatia goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic.

To reach the Nations League finals next June, Spain need just two points from their remaining two games, at home to England and away to Croatia.

Croatia followed their World Cup heartbreak with a lacklustre 1-1 friendly draw against Portugal last week, but in their first competitive match since the 4-2 defeat at the hands of France, Zlatko Dalic's side set an unwanted record with the 6-0 loss at the hands of Spain in the UEFA Nations League - the biggest defeat in the country's history by a distance.

Julen Lopetegui will see 10 more internationals return throughout the week: Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos, Nacho Fernández, Isco Alarcón, Dani Carvajal, Marco Asensio, Thibaut Courtois, Keylor Navas, Casemiro and Dani Ceballos.

Spain versus Croatia had the potential to be an entertaining contest given what the latter achieved at the 2018 World Cup. This means that La Roja have started the Nations League perfectly and are strong favourites to top the group.

But, perhaps more importantly, it should also give the players belief in Luis Enrique's methods.

"They belong to the Spanish national team, nothing more".

"I did not know or care", he said, per the Mirror.

"This week everything was flawless".

Even with all their key men available, though, Croatia's talent pool pales in comparison to that at the disposal of Luis Enrique. They're not from one team or another.

Madrid play Athletic Bilbao at the San Memes this weekend, which, coincidentally, was the same stadium that a fresh-faced 18-year-old Iker Casillas made his debut 19 years ago today. "Today we were very effective and everything went wonderfully well".

Croatia started brightly as their high pressing unsettled Spain in the build-up phase, with a mishit Sergio Busquets pass leading to a shot fired wide by Ivan Rakitic.

The match also kept Spain's flawless record when playing against Croatia star Luka Modric.

"After the first goal we were not so focused, we tried to do things too fast and started to abandon the system. After the second goal, the match was over for us".

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