Sergio Ramos has assured Spain supporters that the squad is fully united as they prepare to defend their European Championship crown.
Spain, champions in 2008 and 2012, have been rocked by allegations of a sex scandal involving goalkeeper David de Gea – claims the Manchester United man has strenuously denied – while there remains doubts as to the sincerity of the relationship between players from arch-rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona.
But Madrid skipper Ramos, who will lead Spain out at the Stade de Toulouse if De Gea is preferred to captain Iker Casillas, insists everyone is pulling in the right direction.
He said of De Gea: “It wasn’t a very good piece of news to receive. But when you’re with a team-mate, he has the whole support of the group.
“We’re not going to say anything more about it. We are excited for the championship to begin and we are going to do the best we can.
“I don’t think the controversy has changed anything. We had a good atmosphere in the squad and we still have a good atmosphere. We are all here to support each other. Now there is more focus on that and the group is behind a player who is going through an unpleasant moment.”
As for the persistent suggestions of friction due to club squabbles, Ramos added: “During the season everyone is with their club and there is a lot of excitement when we come together in the national team.
“There is a fusion. It doesn’t matter which team you come from. We are here for the same objective, the country unites us and the club badges don’t matter, we are only playing for the crest of the national team.”
Spain flopped horribly at the World Cup two years ago, making a group-stage exit. Since then midfield mainstays Xavi and Xabi Alonso have retired from international football while the likes of Fernando Torres and David Villa were not picked.
Despite that the likes of Casillas, Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and David Silva remain, and Ramos is pleased coach Vicente del Bosque has retained a sense of continuity in the squad.
He said: “There are not big changes, there is a team and players with a lot of qualities.
“The new players have integrated really well and I think we can continue to shine, maybe not at the same level as before but at a very high level.”
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