DOHA: During Spain’s 7-0 defeat of Costa Rica in the opening match of the World Cup, it was clear that Luis Enrique’s players knew where they should be on the pitch and what they should be doing at all times.
Set on positional play and possession retention, the coach has been innovative in his use of technology and out-of-the-box thinking to get his players to work within his set structure.
When Spain trained, both at home in Las Rozas on the outskirts of Madrid and at Qatar University in Doha, Luis Enrique would sometimes stand on a scaffolding tower, which he commissioned to be built.
It´sa tactic he has been using since training Celta de Vigo in 2013.
From above he has a better view of the players’ positions and, using the microphones on the back of their training jackets, can direct them via a walkie-talkie.
“Today, for example, I decided that the attackers would wear it and we had a much calmer communication,” Luis Enrique explained on his Twitch channel last week.
“I do not speak to them when the play is in motion, for they need not think that I am running after them, but when the motion is over, if there is something to correct, I will correct it.”
It saves the coach from having to yell and facilitates easy communication without the players having to leave their positions before the drill takes place again.
“We see technology applied more in training in the national team,” Spain defender Eric Garcia said in September.
“Technology is advancing, and it is being applied in football little by little.
“These are effective, with walkie-talkies the coach corrects us from a distance.”
Back in Madrid, there is a giant screen on the Spanish training ground for Luis Enrique to work through the movements, another technique for giving immediate and clear feedback to players.
“We train more on video than we do on the field,” said Luis Enrique on Twitch.
“There are players who do things with their clubs that are very different from what we’d ask, but we’ve seen when they come with us they do it brilliantly.”
Barcelona’s midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Javi have impressed their club this season, but they took their game to another level against Costa Rica.
Spain players are using electric scooters to commute between their accommodation and the training ground, which means the amount of time they spend on the team bus is shorter than ever at the World Cup.
Luis Enrique’s Twitch streams have also helped him connect with the Spanish public, with over 150,000 followers, allowing him to be the focus of attention rather than his team.
“I love computers,” he told viewers, “when I arrived at Real Madrid at the age of 21, the first thing I did was buy one.”
“My teammates told me ‘but you don’t even know how to play it.’ (I said) well don’t worry, I’ll learn someday.
“I’ve always loved technology. I remember being one of the first guys to get online, working on emails and helping others. I’ve always loved it.
“Now I’m an old old man who doesn’t know how to turn on bluetooth on his headphones.”
However, his use of technology to help boost Spain’s bid to win a second World Cup means otherwise, with Germany coming up on Sunday.