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No back-three fears for Spain boss Del Bosque

Vicente del Bosque acknowledges Italy’s system has caused Spain problems in the past but he expects the European champions to shine in Monday’s Euro 2016 last-16 clash.

Del Bosque and his players crashed out of the 2014 World Cup at the first hurdle, unable to take their title defence into the knockout stages after humbling losses to Netherlands and Chile.

Both those opponents operated with three centre-backs – a system favoured by Italy boss Antonio Conte and one almost certain to form the basis of his approach at the Stade de France.

But Del Bosque was keen to point to improvement from his own side, with Alvaro Morata excelling in the previously troublesome centre-forward position, and drew confidence from a 1-1 friendly result in Italy three months ago.

“I think we’ve made some tweaks so everyone knows what they have to do,” he told a pre-match news conference in Saint-Denis.

“In the last game against Italy in Udine they played like this.

“We have had one or two problems against similar systems but hopefully we play our game, so they’re worrying about us and we’re not worrying about them.”

Monday’s match is a re-run of the Euro 2012 final, in which Spain thrashed Italy 4-0.

Del Bosque is proud of that triumph but does not envisage a repeat, stating fatigue was a factor for the Azzurri in Kiev four years ago.

“I think the game was conditioned by a lot of things,” he explained. “Italy were very tired when they got to the final.

“Physically they had some injuries so they weren’t the real Italy that they are now.

“I think they are a lot better. They were a bit knackered when they got to the final and we took advantage.”

Conte, who will leave Italy to coach Chelsea at the end of the tournament, sought to rally his team in an impassioned briefing, although he insisted he felt Spain were favourites.

Cesc Fabregas mischievously suggested his incoming club boss may have been economical with the truth.

“He said they don’t think they are favourites? I don’t believe him,” said the Spain midfielder. 

“They have a great manager. From what I’ve seen he studies a lot and knows the opponent.

“We have to see on the pitch and hope that Spain are better.”

Sun 26 Jun, 2016
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