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Kepa feeling confident with Spain despite Chelsea struggles

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The Blues goalkeeper was grateful to play for his country on Wednesday after losing his place in his club side to Edouard Mendy

Kepa Arrizabalaga is feeling confident within the Spain squad after putting aside his struggles at Premier League giants Chelsea for the time being.

Kepa became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea from La Liga outfit Athletic Bilbao for a reported £71.6million (€80m/$92.5m) two years ago.

However, the 26-year-old’s unreliable form in the past year saw his place come under threat and he has now seemingly been usurped as Chelsea’s No 1 by new signing Edouard Mendy.

Kepa played in Spain’s 0-0 friendly draw with Portugal on Wednesday and produced a confident display, gathering a few set-pieces and making a fine late save from Trincao.

Afterwards, Kepa admitted to a sense of ease with the national team due to the faith shown in him by Spain head coach Luis Enrique.

“I’ve felt confidence, at ease. I think it was a good game and I’m happy with the confidence of the coach,” he told Teledeporte. “When I’m needed to help on the pitch, I try to do the best possible.

“It was a game of great intensity. [We had] more control in the first half. In the second, we found it more difficult to control Portugal’s transitions. It was a good test.

“We have to be happy. We stood up today. We have to improve because we conceded a few clear chances, which you can pay for in a tournament.”

Spain controlled the first half but Portugal were by far the more threatening in the second in Lisbon.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Renato Sanches each struck the underside of the crossbar with thunderous efforts and Joao Felix should have won the match late on, the Atletico Madrid star failing to turn in Ruben Semedo’s glancing header.

“We started better, but as the game progressed, we lost control,” striker Rodrigo Moreno said. “The draw isn’t an unfair result. The pace dropped as the match progressed. We had little time to train, [and] the games are very demanding.

“We have to give a little more to keep on this good path. We have to keep working and be protagonists with the ball.”

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About Kirigaya Kazuto

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Kazuto Kirigaya, born as Kazuto Narusaka, is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Sword Art Online series of light novels written by Reki Kawahara.

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