Barcelona left back Jordi Alba back in Spain squad


MADRID (AP) — Barcelona left back Jordi Alba has been recalled by Spain for its UEFA Nations League match against Croatia.

Coach Luis Enrique has been heavily criticized for not including Alba in his first two squads since he took charge of Spain following a disappointing World Cup in July. Former Spain defender and Alba’s clubmate, Gerard Pique, recently called on the coach to pick Alba.

A win by Spain in Croatia on Nov. 15 will put it into the Nations League final four to be played in June.

Alba has 66 caps and eight goals for Spain, including one in the final of the 2012 European Championship where Spain routed Italy 4-0.

The 29-year-old Alba is having an excellent season for Spanish leader Barcelona, scoring twice. He has started 10 of 11 Liga matches and all four Champions League games for the club.

Luis Enrique, who once coached Alba at Barcelona, had so far preferred Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso and Valencia’s Jose Gaya over Alba.

Alonso was dropped for Alba.

Spain leads Group 4 with six points from three matches. England has four points from three matches, while Croatia has one point after two matches. Spain routed Croatia 6-0 in their first meeting last month. It has also beaten England 2-1 away and lost to the English 3-2 at home.

Spain also hosts Bosnia and Herzegovina in a friendly on Nov. 18.

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