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Spain will seek to take another big step towards Euro 2020 on Thursday, when they go to Bucharest to face Romania.
It is sure to be an emotional occasion for La Roja, with former boss Luis Enrique having announced last week that his daughter had lost a battle with illness – the reason he so abruptly stood down as national team coach earlier this year.
Even before the first training session overseen by new coach Robert Moreno, who was previously Enrique’s assistant then caretaker boss, there was a poignant minute’s silence held by the national team staff.
“It’s been a difficult week,” he admitted. “We’ll try to give some small joy at a very bad moment. It’s all we can do.”
Moreno, meanwhile, admitted that he would be happy to go back to the previous arrangement, in which he was No.2.
“I consider Luis a friend and this friendship comes before everything else,” he said. “If he wants to return one day, I will be delighted to step aside and work with him.”
On the field, the 2008 and 2012 European champions have not missed a beat. Since losing successive Nations League matches to Englandand Croatia by a 3-2 scoreline in the autumn of 2018, they have picked up five successive victories.
Their latest outing came in June, when they ran out 3-0 winners over Sweden, albeit all the goals came in the closing 30 minutes, with Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Morata both on target from the penalty spot.
If Spain are well on course to qualify, Romania are at a low ebb. Although they currently lie third, this is a flattering position considering they have played both Malta and the Faroe Islands, who will surely prove the group’s whipping boys.