La Roja have a new coach: Luis de la Fuente. Little known to the general public and with a fairly meager CV, the Spanish tactician nevertheless has an interesting profile.

Spain: who is Luis de la Fuente, the new coach of La Roja?

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The news fell earlier in the day: Luis Enrique leaves, as planned, his post as coach of La Roja. His replacement was quickly announced, since it is Luis de la Fuente who will be on the bench for La Roja's next international matches, next March, against Norway and Scotland for the qualifying campaign for the next Euro. On the other side of the Pyrenees, this announcement is quite divisive. On the one hand, many wanted a renowned coach to take over the Spanish project, with Ernesto Valverde who was acclaimed although in post at Athletic, as well as Marcelino Garcia Toral, coach who has a very good rating in Spain. following his successful adventures in Villarreal and Valencia. Others, on the other hand, believe that this appointment allows the selection to have a certain continuity in ideas, especially since De la Fuente has already managed a good number of players in the selection during his past experiences at the head of the youth teams of Spain.

It must be said that even among our Iberian neighbors, Luis de la Fuente is not far from being an illustrious stranger. He had certainly led a match for the Spanish A selection in June 2021, against Lithuania in a friendly before the Euro, while Luis Enrique and several players were confined following the positive test of Sergio Busquets. But apart from this short interim, not many people know him! At 61 years old – even if his physical condition may suggest that he is 15 years younger – he has simply never led a La Liga team. The former player of Athletic and Sevilla, among others, where he had very good years as a left-back, never even coached above the third division, where he practiced in the years 2000, taking charge of the Athletic B team and an Alavés in crisis at the time. Not particularly brilliant adventures elsewhere… It was in 2013 that he joined the Federation, being appointed coach of the U19s.

A youth specialist

And since then, his results have been quite good, since he won the Euro in this category in 2015, as well as the Mediterranean Games with the U18s in 2018. In 2019, he won the Euro with the Espoirs, in a team where we find a good number of players currently present in selection like Dani Olmo or Carlos Soler, and others who were not at the World Cup but who have sometimes been called up like Mikel Merino and Mikel Oyarzabal. Under his command, Spain also won silver at the last Olympics. He also knows Unai Simón, Marco Asensio or Rodri well, who passed through his hands for many years, as well as Pedri or Pau Torres. As you will have understood, there are few people who master and know the Spanish breeding ground better than he currently does. It is probably largely for this reason that he was elected. If Luis Enrique laid the first foundations by launching a good number of young people in the selection, Luis de la Fuente will have to continue the work and accompany this whole generation for years. Who better than someone who has been around them and knows them since they were young?

The game practiced by his teams in the lower categories of the selection is also an argument in his favor. Unlike Marcelino who often opts for a rather direct and quite defensive style, De la Fuente is clearly in line with Luis Enrique, with this positional game which certainly did not really work during this World Cup, but which gave results in young people and which he will therefore have to seriously refine. His 4-2-3-1 often used with Rojita teams, with a number 10 very close to the point player, could be a solution. If the system can sometimes vary, the content is almost the same and there are many similarities with the former Barça, since LDLF is also fond of this idea of ​​​​playing with a false number 9, role that he has for example entrusted to Mikel Oyarzabal, training winger, in the past. Not to mention this short and kicking game that is the basis of everything.

Rubiales places his pawns

On the other hand, it is a management and a completely different personality that fans of La Roja will discover. If Luis Enrique was very divisive, quite eccentric, sometimes arrogant, able to take all the pressure on him and with a Barça label that did not please everyone, Luis de la Fuente is much more consensual. With him, there should be no waves, as he is discreet. This is also what the Spanish Federation was looking for, which was a little annoyed by the division that Luis Enrique was creating among the Spanish supporters. De la Fuente has more of a Vicente del Bosque profile, unifying, calm and polite. For the greatest happiness of the Federation. And that is also what is controversial, in a country where all current affairs are subject to debate.

Many believe that Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Federation who has been awash in criticism for years already, has just placed a friend. With Luis de la Fuente, it's the assurance of being calm and possibly having a say in certain sporting aspects. Which was out of the question with a Luis Enrique who wanted, and that can be understood, to control everything. In view of the first reactions in Spain, we can even already say that if Spain were to chain bad results in the near future, it is not Luis de la Fuente who will be singled out first but Rubiales, already bogged down in a number of scandals and shady deals. We can't wait for De la Fuente's first list, which will surely cause less controversy than those of his predecessor!


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