Thiago Alcantara watched on from the bench as Spain stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Poland at Euro 2020 on Saturday night.
The Liverpool star seemed to be exactly what Luis Enrique’s side needed in midfield, but bizarrely didn’t get a minute of action.
Spain 1-1 Poland
After drawing their opening Group E game against Sweden last week, Spain needed to get three points on the board against Poland.
However, they failed to do so, meaning they face a stressful final game against Slovakia on Wednesday.
Alvaro Morata got La Furia Roja off to a good start with a 25th-minute opener. The linesman originally flagged for offside, before VAR stepped in to allow the goal to stand.
Numerous chances followed for both sides throughout the rest of the half.
10 minutes into the second half, Robert Lewandowski scored his customary goal. He steered home a towering header to level the scores.
The game had hardly got going again when VAR had a look at a foul on Gerard Moreno in the Poland box. The referee pointed to the spot, and the Villarreal striker stepped up to take it himself.
However, the striker hit the post before Morata made a hash of the rebound.
Spain dominated the rest of the game but failed to really penetrate the Polish defence.
Despite late Spanish pressure, the game finished 1-1.
Thiago watched on from the Spain bench
Luis Enrique used four subs to try and find a winner in Seville. Yet Thiago Alcantara remained uncalled.
If was a baffling decision by the former Barcelona manager.
Spain’s midfield could not find any way through the Polish defence for the majority of the second half.
As talented as Rodri, Pedri and Koke are, none of them could pick that line-breaking pass that their side needed. Replacements Fabian Ruiz and Pablo Sarabia didn’t fare much better.
Thiago is one of the very best central midfielders on earth. He has been for over half a decade.
His brain works on a different level to most footballers. Finding that killer pass before the assist is something he does to a truly elite level.
He was expected to be one of Spain’s key men heading into the tournament. The 30-year-old is a big leader in the dressing room and had performed well in the warm-up games.
The fact that he has not started either of the first two games and Spain have failed to win them both is probably not a coincidence.
Perhaps Luis Enrique believes that he doesn’t have a natural home in his 4-3-3 system. But anybody who saw him play for Liverpool in the last few Premier League fixtures of 2020/21 will tell you that that makes no sense.
If Spain want to progress at Euro 2020, Enrique will have to seriously consider starting what is arguably their best player.
If he doesn’t and Spain fail to beat Slovakia, big questions will be asked of him.
What did fans on Twitter think?
Liverpool fans on Twitter were quick to criticize Enrique for his refusal to play Thiago.
In fact, it wasn’t just Kopites that felt the 30-year-old has been underutilized by his nation thus far at Euro 2020.