The kids are all right! Pedri and Gavi lead the way as Spain obliterate Costa Rica

Throughout Luis Enrique's managerial career, he's been regarded as a coach who marches to the beat of his own drum.

Others may not agree – and many often don't – but his decision-making process is practically impenetrable, with the 52-year-old blessed with the authority of absolute clarity.

This hasn't ever been in doubt, but it was particularly clear in his squad selection for the World Cup. Despite calls from various media sources for certain older, more experienced players to be included, Luis Enrique named a group that was – at the time – the third youngest of all travelling to Qatar.

While there's a long way to go at Qatar 2022, Spain's first match was a vindication of the coach and a showcase of their potential as a youthful side produced one of the most dominant World Cup wins you're ever likely to see as they won 7-0 at Al Thumama Stadium on Wednesday.

Of course, it wasn't surprising to see Luis Enrique name Pedri and Gavi among his starting XI, though it was no less significant, with it the first time two teenagers have started for La Roja in a World Cup game.


Both are prime examples of Luis Enrique's complete trust in the "right player", regardless of their age, with Pedri a shining light at Euro 2020 last year and Gavi making his debut as Spain's youngest ever player not long after despite making just a handful of appearances for Barcelona's first team.

Pedri arguably came into this tournament as the closest thing Spain have to a "superstar", and his importance was obvious practically from the start, creating two chances in the first nine minutes.

Neither led to a goal, yet it was an ominous warning from Pedri, who at 19 years and 363 days old was playing his seventh major tournament game, equalling Kylian Mbappe as the player with the most combined appearances in the World Cup and European Championship as a teenager.

But it wasn't just Pedri's chance creation – his tally of three was a joint-high – that saw him stand out. So often he was the one spotting the space around Costa Rica's press, getting Spain back on front foot with simple passes; simple passes played early and with the perfect weighting.


Gavi may not have had the same playmaking influence as Pedri, having one touch less (92 to 91) despite playing the entire game, but there so many signs of his positive mentality as he routinely looked for the killer ball.

One such instance brought the opening goal.

The feisty midfielder picked up possession just outside Costa Rica's area and attempted to release Dani Olmo with a scooped pass. It didn't quite come off, but it caused havoc nonetheless, flicking off a defender before the RB Leipzig man brilliantly took it down on the spin and clipped over Keylor Navas.

Gavi became the youngest player to represent Spain at an international tournament in this contest at the age of 18 years and 110 days, but he was playing with the bravery of someone much older, his clever flicks and turns keeping Costa Rica's often brutish defence on their toes after Marco Asensio made it 2-0.

There was even more to come, however. Gavi later played a key role with a clever off-the-ball run and subsequent cut-back in the build-up to Ferran Torres – who earlier converted a penalty – netting his second goal, before then breaking Raul's record to become Spain's youngest ever World Cup scorer with a clinical finish that made it 5-0 16 minutes from time.

In fact, that made Gavi the youngest player to score a World Cup goal since Pele in 1958.


But it wasn't just Pedri – who went off just before the hour – and Gavi highlighting La Roja's potential. Don't forget, Olmo and Torres are still only 24 and 22, respectively, while 19-year-old Alejandro Balde and Nico Williams – only a year older – enjoyed second-half cameos.

Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata – who impressed off the bench – netted further goals to give the scoreline a brutal appearance, but this game belonged to the kids and Luis Enrique, who had every right to be thrilled with La Roja's start.

There were several selection calls that could've been considered surprises: Asensio starting instead of Alvaro Morata, Rodri at centre-back, even Olmo starting after his recent injury troubles.

But all worked a treat and there was no sign of the wastefulness that has defined Spain in the eyes of some over the past few years.

Spain will face much sterner tests than this. Costa Rica didn't even manage a shot and other teams will put up a greater fight defensively, which should give us a clearer indication of whether Luis Enrique's men have learnt their lessons from Euro 2020.

But World Cup wins shouldn't be taken for granted – just ask Germany and Argentina.