The Luis Enrique era has begun in earnest, as Spain look to bounce back after their World Cup disappointment.

La Roja headed to Russia among the favourites, but after Julen Lopetegui's shock departure on the eve of the tournament they failed to hit the heights expected.

They were duly dumped out at the last 16 stage after an insipid display against a limited Russia side, falling on penalties despite dominating possession.

It is that possession style that has been a hallmark during Spain's golden era.

But questions have been asked since their World Cup exit over whether the side's desire for possession has made them less incisive and thus rendered a much-vaunted attack relatively ineffective; certainly the Russia clash suggested so.

Luis Enrique takes charge of his first training session (Image: REX/Shutterstock)
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That is something that was similarly queried about Barcelona when Enrique walked through the door at Camp Nou four years ago.

He subsequently turned Barcelona into a side that still looked to dominate, but were capable of being more direct and cutting in transition - leading to their Champions League triumph in 2015.

Now, at a time when Spain are looking to kick-on and prove that their Russia demise was just a one-off shock rather than anything more major, Enrique is setting about doing things his way.

He met up with his first Spain squad on Monday, ahead of their Europa Nations League fixtures with England and Croatia as Las Rozas.

Here's how he's already set about making his mark.

A united front with his captain

Luis Enrique and Sergio Ramos share a hug

Spain’s players arrived at the Ciudad del Fútbol on the outskirts of Madrid on Monday afternoon.

Sergio Ramos, the captain, was in relaxed mood as he arrived and he will continue as the team’s leader under the new boss.

Ramos said hello to all of the staff, but the new boss was conspicuous by his absence. However, he was quickly given a little barge from Enrique, with the two sharing a smile.

Enrique stated on Tuesday that the pair had not spoken ahead of time, but says Ramos will be continuing as skipper.

Luis Enrique points the way as Sergio Ramos gets down to business (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

"I have not spoken to any player, except for [Gerard] Piqué. It's my style. I have not considered it necessary. There is no need for a revolution, evolution is necessary. He [Ramos] is the captain, who has the most matches."

Simply put, the Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry doesn't need to become part of the national side narrative again; certainly, the early signs appear that the new coach and captain are on the same page.

No phones at meal times

Promotion of togetherness (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

It's a simple one.

But Enrique has determined that at breakfast, lunch and dinner, mobile phones must be left in players' rooms, as he bids to encourage his players to focus on the tasks ahead.

Isco set to be key

Isco in training on Monday night (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

Increasingly important to Spain over the last 12-18 months has been Real Madrid midfielder Isco; his display in the World Cup qualifier against Italy last September was one of the finest virtuoso performances seen anywhere last term.

But the playmaker lost his way somewhat at the World Cup, and was dreadfully ineffective in the loss to Russia, too passive with his passing and failing to make an impact.

However, despite that disappointment, his growth for both club and country cannot be underestimated, and the new Spain boss says he is vital to his plans moving forwards.

"He is a very complete player, one of the most decisive players in the national team and in Spanish football, said Enrique.

"He is decisive, has the ability to score, last pass, good defensive behaviour. He is a very complete footballer."

Going private

Enrique values being able to work privately (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

Monday night's session was an open one, with around 500 fans in attendance.

But the new coach has determined that those on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - as he gets down to the real tactical details ahead of the upcoming fixtures - will be more private.

Fans won't be in attendance and, at Enrique's direction - a canvas has been set up around the main training field so people cannot watch from outside the fences.

He did similar with a giant scaffold after being installed as Celta Vigo manager.

The Jordi Alba issue remains

No spot for Jordi Alba in the current squad (Image: 2018 Getty Images)

Jordi Alba was the surprise absentee from the current squad with Marcos Alonso and Jose Gaya both preferred.

"I don't know why I'm not going," said Alba after Barca's 8-2 win over Huesca at the weekend.

There have been suggestions that the 66-cap left-back and Enrique fell out during his the coach's last season at Barca, while Alba has previously been critical.

Asked about his absence, the new Spain coach was evasive, saying it was "a special day" for those included - and that it wasn't a slight on those who weren't.

However, it is sometimes more noticeable what you omit; when asked about Pepe Reina's absence Enrique was a lot more forthcoming, explaining: "It's the same case as Iker Casillas, an active player who has not said he does not want to come to the national team, so he is selectable and can come at any time."

Perhaps there is still an international future for Alba, but it appears the ice may need to thaw somewhat first.



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