Jordi Alba: I didn’t expect to be snubbed by Spain boss Luis Enrique

Jordi Alba: I didn't expect to be snubbed by Spain boss Luis Enrique
Jordi Alba

Barcelona defender Jordi Alba was surprised to learn that he had been left out of the Spain squad on Friday but insisted there is no problem with Luis Enrique.

Alba, 29, has won 66 caps for Spain since making his debut in 2011 and was the first choice left-back at the World Cup in Russia this summer.

However, he was omitted from the 23-man squad for the upcoming friendlies against England and Croatia by ex-Barca coach Luis Enrique, who replaced Julen Lopetegui as La Roja boss in July.

“I would like to be in the Spain squad but it’s up to the coach and I have to respect the decision,” Alba told reporters after Barca’s 8-2 win against Huesca on Sunday.

“I didn’t expect to be dropped, but I didn’t expect to go to the European Championships in 2012, either, when I was with Valencia. It doesn’t depend on me if I am called up or not.”

Alba found himself out of the Barca side at the end of the 2016-17 season, Luis Enrique’s last in charge at Camp Nou, with the relationship between the two reportedly deteriorating.

Asked if that could be behind his exclusion from the Spain squad, with Marcos Alonso and Jose Luis Gaya called up ahead of them, Alba denied the existence of any problem with Luis Enrique.

“I don’t have any problems with anyone on a professional level,” he stressed. “It’s a decision which Luis Enrique has taken — I don’t know why I haven’t been called up.

“All I can do is respect the decisions which have been taken. I’m doing well with my club. That is my job. And if things [keep going] well, let’s see what happens with the national team.”

Alba responded in the best possible way on Sunday, scoring one and creating two more as Barca hammered La Liga newcomers Huesca after falling behind to an early goal.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez each helped themselves to two goals, with Ivan Rakitic, Ousmane Dembele and an own goal rounding off the scoring.

“The eight goals were the product of our play and the chances we created,” coach Ernesto Valverde said in his postgame news conference.

“Huesca are a dangerous team and they can catch you on the break with players like [Alex] Gallar and [Juan Camilo] Hernandez [“Cucho”].

“They left us open-mouthed with that early goal, but we turned things around. We were patient, probing around their area. The game was up in the air at the break at 3-2, but in the second half we killed it off and were much more clinical.”

Barca have now won their opening three games in La Liga and top the table heading into the international break courtesy of their superior goal difference over Real Madrid, who also have a perfect record in the league.

“Things are just getting started,” Valverde added. “Being top of the league on goal difference has little importance. There are teams like Valencia and Atletico [Madrid] who are further back, but there’s a long way to go.”

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