ALCACER MAKES HIS POINT AS SPAIN CRUSH WALES
Paco Alcacer made his case for a regular place in the Spain team as the on-loan Borussia Dortmund forward struck twice in his country's 4-1 rout of Wales on Thursday.
With Diego Costa injured and Rodrigo on the bench, Alcacer seized his chance to impress Spain boss Luis Enrique in his first international appearance since March 2016.
The 25-year-old maintained his blistering club form to leave the Wales defence in tatters in a one-sided friendly at the Principality Stadium.
Alcacer netted twice in the first half to make it eight goals in 14 Spain appearances, while Sergio Ramos and Marc Bartra were also on target for the visitors.
Alcacer has hit seven goals in four matches for Dortmund since joining on loan from Barcelona, where he struggled to break into the team and was rarely picked by Enrique during his time in charge at the Camp Nou.
Enrique might be having a change of heart after this predatory display from Alcacer on an emotional night for Spain, who stood before kick-off for a minute's
silence in memory of the victims of the Majorca flooding which has killed 12 people.
The former world and European champions endured a disappointing World Cup, stunningly knocked out in the last 16 by hosts Russia after sacking manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament.
But Enrique has won all three of his games since taking charge after the World Cup and this emphatic success was the ideal preparation for Spain before they resume their Nations League campaign against England in Seville on Monday.
Spain beat England 2-1 at Wembley in Enrique's first match, then hammered World Cup finalists Croatia 6-0.
"It was an intense game. I loved my team's attitude. They did what I wanted them to do," Enrique said.
- Joachim Loew faces the toughest tests of his 12-year tenure as Germany head coach in the forthcoming Nations League matches away to the Netherlands and world champions France.
After earning himself some breathing space following a 0-0 draw with Didier Deschamps' France in Munich last month, Loew must take points from the Dutch today in Amsterdam, and French in Paris next Tuesday, to restore his tarnished reputation.
His former captain Michael Ballack turned on him this week, claiming he was ‘surprised’ Loew kept his job in the wake of Germany's World Cup debacle when they crashed out after the group stage.
Jurgen Klinsmann, Germany's head coach with Loew as his assistant at the 2006 World Cup, also ramped up the pressure by saying a semi-final berth at the 2020 European Championship is now a ‘minimum requirement’.
"It's expected 'Jogi' will redeem himself with victories and by reaching the semi-finals of the next Euro," Klinsmann told magazine Sport Bild.
The former striker, 54, says his post-World Cup conversations with Loew convince him that the 58year-old still has the necessary ‘hunger’ to succeed.
Unusually, Loew, who steered Germany to the 2014 World Cup title, has yet to face the press this week, leaving Toni Kroos to defend him on Thursday from Ballack's criticism.
CELEBRATION: Spain’s striker Paco Alcacer (2l) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal, his second, with Spain’s striker Alvaro Morata (l) during the international friendly football match between Wales and Spain.
PRESSURE: Germany coach Joachim Loew.