Spain coach Luis Enrique insisted Tuesday that he is the team's leader in the absence of any obvious star player, ahead of their first World Cup game against Costa Rica.
World Cup winner and captain Sergio Busquets tends to keep a low profile, while youngsters like Ansu Fati and Pedri could one day become stars in their own right but are still developing.
"I have to say I am the leader because who will believe in what I tell them, if there is any doubt. "I decide who plays, when we travel, how we play, I am a leader who gives solutions to the team.
"I am delighted to be here, to debut as coach at a World Cup, enjoy this party of football, have the last training session this afternoon and take on the first game with joy." Spain have the third youngest squad at the World Cup, with Luis Enrique leaning on younger talents while some older players like Sergio Ramos were left out of the squad.
"It's very positive because young players bring energy to the team, we try to manage that with the experience we have as staff," said Luis Enrique.
The coach admitted that the worst moment of the tournament so far came last week when he exercised that leadership, replacing Jose Gaya with Alejandro Balde, after the Valencia defender suffered a sprained ankle.
Asked about Spanish reports that Gaya's ankle had already healed and he would have been able to play in the tournament, Luis Enrique explained his choice.
Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez said he took a different approach to leadership.
"I just help the leaders, I can facilitate them," he told a press conference later Tuesday.
"In my group I have different leaders. I can have a few of them so I can manage them. Bryan (Ruiz) is one, Keylor (Navas) is another, Joel Campbell is another. We have a different type of leadership. We have to be smart enough to know who the leaders are and help them."