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The World Cup semi-finalists must be fearless enough to stick to their principles as they aim to become a possession-based side, according to the England manager, despite a humbling 2-1 defeat by Spain in Saturday's UEFA Nations League opener.

Spain were the better team in Enrique's first game in charge and this had been another education - the 11th match under Southgate against opponents in Fifa's top 20 which has not been won in normal time, with complaints over a refereeing oversight merely masking reality.

"It was hard but we had good spells in the game and we probably created the better chances".

"Their retention of the ball was top class".

"But I've got to give the players enormous credit because it was a game where we could've folded and disappeared but we didn't".

Luis Enrique has revealed that David De Gea believed he was fouled for Danny Welbeck's disallowed goal in Spain's victory over England on Saturday evening.

A 2-1 defeat in extra-time to Croatia crushed their dreams of emulating the class of 1966 and bringing home the most coveted prize in world football.

"In those big environments you need the ref to stay strong and unfortunately he's bottled it".

England opened the scoring through Marcus Rashford, but goals from Saul Niguez and Rodrigo Moreno took the game from the Three Lions.

Earlier, Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw had left the field on a stretcher following lengthy treatment from more than ten medical staff after a collision with Dani Carvajal.

It was that kind of energy and intensity that was missing from Spain at the World Cup and Tuesday night seems them face the side that ended this summer's tournament as runners-up.

"I think at the moment we have to stick with the plan, stick with what we're doing and just get better at doing it".

"But if I have to talk about the best in the world, the prize of the best player would be given to Leo Messi, who is one step above the rest".

"We have got some others who might come back from injury and maybe coming through from the junior ranks".

"We have to think about the whole match and I think we deserved to win". But there's a level for us to go to and that's a really good challenge for us over the next couple of years.


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