Real Madrid star Dani Carvajal has dismissed the notion that Spain boss Luis Enrique holds something against players from his club, while admitting that a World Cup without the Roja would be hard for him to take.
Luis Enrique famously crossed the Clasico divide from Madrid to Barcelona as a player, becoming a hero at the latter club while the Santiago Bernabeu turned its wrath on him at every opportunity. He then coached the Blaugrana to a pair of La Liga titles.
That rivalry has now crossed over into the international game, with accusations that the coach is less willing to pick Blancos stars past and present such as centre-back Sergio Ramos, who was left out of Spain's Euro 2020 squad.
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What did Carvajal say?
"When I have heard that opinion I try to explain that nothing could be further from the truth," Carvajal told Marca when quizzed on his Spain boss' supposed anti-Madrid bias.
"The coach tries to call up the players he thinks are going to help achieve what he wants, whatever team they play for.
"That is his method, his philosophy and plan. I thank him [for always picking me], and for what he said about me at his press conference. I hope things continue this way."
A World Cup without Spain?
With just two games remaining of the UEFA qualifying competition, Spain's presence at Qatar 2022 is still yet to be confirmed.
Luis Enrique's charges currently trail Sweden by two points in the race for Group B's automatic qualification spot, although they have the advantage of knowing that their fate lies in their own hands, as victories over Greece on Thursday and then their rivals will assure control of the summit.
Should they fall short, a place in the play-offs looms, a prospect that Carvajal would rather avoid.
"Can I imagine a World Cup without Spain? Not right now, and we all have to work hard to make sure it doesn't happen," he added.
"I can't remember [the last play-off Spain played]. Best not to go through that again."