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Change in attitude key for Luis Enrique’s revamped Spain

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MADRID (AP) After only two matches, Luis Enrique already knows the key to his early success as coach of Spain’s national team.

Enrique said the team’s approach in the impressive wins over England and Croatia in the UEFA Nations League is what made the difference for a revamped squad since he took over.

“What I liked the most in these 10 days was the players’ attitude on and off the field,” the former Barcelona coach said. “In only a few training sessions they were able to put our ideas into practice.”

Enrique spoke after Spain’s 6-0 rout of World Cup runner-up Croatia in the Nations League on Tuesday. Three days earlier, La Roja had come from behind to defeat England 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.

“It was a spectacular day. I couldn’t have imagined it,” Enrique said after the team overpowered Croatia. “But regardless of the score, what I saw in the players’ attitude was what was important. With this level of efficiency and with this quality that we have in front of the goal, it will be very difficult to stop us.”

Fans loudly chanted the coach’s name during Tuesday’s game in the southeastern Spanish city of Elche.

“I was a little embarrassed. It surprised me,” Enrique said. “I’m thankful, but I prefer that they cheer the players, they are the real protagonists.”

Enrique was announced as Spain’s coach in July following the team’s World Cup debacle, when the soccer federation fired Julen Lopetegui two days before the tournament and the team eventually was eliminated by host Russia in the round of 16.

His first contact with players came less than two weeks ago in training camp. He immediately imposed his energetic style in the practice sessions, and it translated onto the field in the first two matches.

Enrique had already taken action to bring the players together and build greater camaraderie within the group, including banning cell phones during meals so players could spend more time talking to each other. He also took the squad to an “escape room,” where players had to work together to solve puzzles and try to break out.

“I liked what I saw from the players the whole week,” Enrique said.

On the field, the coach also implemented important changes, making the team apply more pressure without the ball and playing a more direct game in attack, relinquishing the endless short passes that used to be a characteristic of Spain’s national team.

“Luis Enrique asks us to be very aggressive up front, to pressure and try to dominate, not giving the opponent any breathing room,” said Marco Asensio, who scored a goal and set up three others against Croatia on Tuesday. “We needed to get this sort of feeling back. We’ve put in two great performances.”

Asensio was the man of the match against Croatia but he didn’t even start against England. Iago Aspas played at Wembley and also performed well. Saul Niguez, who has become an undisputable starter for Enrique in midfield thanks to his versatility, also scored on Tuesday, as did Sergio Ramos, Rodrigo and Francisco “Isco” Alarcon.

Spain’s next match is a friendly against Wales on Oct. 11 in Cardiff. Four days later it will host England in Seville in the Nations League.

“Now we have time to analyze everything in more detail,” Enrique said. “There are things to improve despite these first two matches.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

UCL, LIVE – Inter v Tottenham, Barcelona v PSG

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The UEFA Champions League group stage is back for the 2018-19 season, with some early kick offs (12:55 p.m. ET) in Group B serving up mouthwatering clashes.

It is okay to drool over the UCL games instead of your lunch this Tuesday. Honest.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Tottenham Hotspur head to the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium to take on Inter Milan as Mauricio Pochettino has raised some eyebrows with his squad selection following back-to-back defeats in the Premier League. Inter have had a tough start in Serie A, winning just once and losing twice (against Sassuolo and Parma) in their opening four games, but the likes of Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi start in attack as they look to inflict more misery on Spurs.

Elsewhere in Group B, Barcelona host reigning Dutch champs PSV Eindhoven at the Nou Camp with Lionel Messi and Co. starting off as one of the favorites to lift the trophy in Madrid next May. PSV and Mexico star Hirving Lozano will be seen as a huge threat to Barca, as the Dutch giants aim for an upset.

Click on the link above to follow all the action live, while we will keep you up to date with all of the UCL across Europe right here at Pro Soccer Talk.

While here are the starting lineups for all four teams.


Inter Milan v Tottenham

Barcelona v PSV

Peruvian match resumes after gun shots outside stadium

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LIMA, Peru (AP) A Peruvian soccer league match resumed on Monday after being suspended a day earlier because of fighting between fans of the same team.

The country’s soccer association said the last 25 minutes of the match between Alianza Lima and Sporting Cristal would be played behind closed doors.

Sporting Cristal was leading 2-1 Sunday when the match was suspended. Four people were wounded by gunshots outside the stadium during the match.

Peruvian Interior Minister Mauro Medina says the incident happened after rival groups of Alianza Lima fans clashed with each other. Police used tear gas to stop the fight.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Premier League player Power Rankings are back after a frantic Week 5 of the 2018-19 season.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

With a bevvy of fine individual displays after the international break, we have plenty of top talents to choose from.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League and based on them actually playing in the previous Matchweek. If they didn’t play due to injury or suspension, they aren’t going to make this list. Simple.

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


  1. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Even
  2. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool – New entry
  3. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) – New entry
  4. Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) – New entry
  5. Marko Arnautovic (West Ham) – New entry
  6. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 4
  7. Romelu Lukaku (Man United) – Down 4
  8. Jorginho (Chelsea) – Down 2
  9. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – New entry
  10. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Up 5
  11. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) – New entry
  12. Ruben Neves (Wolves) – Even
  13. Raheem Sterling (Man City) – Even
  14. James Milner (Liverpool) – New entry
  15. Glenn Murray (Brighton) – Up 4
  16. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) – New entry
  17. Willian (Chelsea) – New entry
  18. David De Gea (Man United ) – New entry
  19. Josh King (Bournemouth) – New entry
  20. Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham) – New entry

Total transfer spending of top teams revealed

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It’s not about how much you spend, it’s about what you spend it on, right?

Well, sort of.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live

How much have the top clubs on the planet spent to assemble their superstar squads?  In short, a ton. But the deeper analysis shows a clear trend: Premier League clubs are dominating the money spent in the transfer market to assemble their rosters.

The guys over at the International Centre for Sports Studies – CIES Football Observatory, have calculated the biggest spenders on the planet in terms of purchasing their current squads, and eight of the top 20 are from the PL with seven of the top 11 from England’s top-flight.

Take a look at the list below as four of the top six clubs come from England.

Manchester City at the top of the tree having spent $1.14 billion to assemble their current squad, PSG are in second with a spend of $920 million, while Manchester United sit in third after spending $918 million. Liverpool after fourth after dishing out $823 million to put together their current roster, Barcelona have spent $807 million and Chelsea sit sixth after spending $786 million.

Focusing on the Premier League specifically, you can see how much each of the current 20 teams have spent to assemble their squads.

Biggest takeaways: Southampton and West Ham should be doing a lot better, while Bournemouth, Watford and Wolves are punching well above their weight.