DOHA, Qatar (AP) — From a bench at Real Madrid to one of Spain’s most important players in the World Cup. It has been a good change for striker Marco Asensio.
Asensio has made few appearances as a substitute for Real Madrid under manager Carlo Ancelotti. But things have been different with Spain, where he has become a key part of Luis Enrique’s renewed squad. who got off to a good start in his quest to win a second World Cup title.
Asensio scored a goal in the team’s 7-0 win over Costa Rica in Group E on Wednesday, taking center stage to help “La Roja” open their campaign with a resounding victory.
Spain is trying to win its first major title since Euro 2012. Their next game is on Sunday against Germany, which opened with a 2-1 loss to Japan.
Luis Enrique, who rarely singles out players to praise them, has not been silent when asked about the importance of Asensio.
“Asensio has been spectacular, he is at the highest level,” said Luis Enrique after the game against Costa Rica. “He is a great player and I am delighted that he has been playing like this.”
Asensio, who only made three starts for Real Madrid this season, said he had never felt so comfortable with the national team.
“I feel very good,” Asensio said a day after Spain’s opening victory. “I am comfortable with what Luis Enrique has been asking of me. and I am glad that he has confidence in me ”.
Asensio had been away from the national team for some time until he was called up for the Nations League matches in June 2021, when Luis Enrique could not count on many other players due to injuries. He has thrived ever since and secured his place on the team.
“I was very moved to receive the call from Luis Enrique,” he said. “I was looking forward to coming back and I’m glad I made the most of my opportunity.”
Luis Enrique has been using Asensio in different positions, including as a “false 9” and as a striker, as was the case in the first match, when the coach preferred Asensio over regular starter Álvaro Morata in the starting eleven.
“From the first day, Luis Enrique told me that he was going to play in several different positions,” said the 26-year-old Asensio.
He said the World Cup could help him turn things around at club level, whether he stays with Madrid or leaves when his contract expires after next season.
“A World Cup is always important for a player, I don’t know if it’s a turning point, but for me it’s very important,” he said. “I look forward to this World Cup because of everything that has happened and because of how special this group is.”
This is the second World Cup for Asensio after he made three appearances at the 2018 tournament in Russia, when Spain were knocked out by the hosts in the round of 16. He didn’t make the Spain team at the European Championships last year, but he was on the team that reached the final of the Tokyo Olympics, winning a silver medal.
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