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Spain on another level, admits Vrba

Czech Republic head coach Pavel Vrba conceded that Spain were on “another level” to his side following their Euro 2016 opener in Toulouse on Monday.

The holders dominated proceedings at Stade de Toulouse but were forced to wait until the 86th minute for the breakthrough, when Gerard Pique headed in Andres Iniesta’s cross.

Vrba was frustrated that his side could not be more efficient during their brief spells of possession and make the most of their counter-attacking opportunities, with David de Gea called into action just three times during the 90 minutes.

But the 52-year-old felt his players were always facing an uphill battle against a team including players who have already enjoyed continental success at club level this season.

“Looking from a defensive perspective, it could’ve been better had we attacked more, but I’m very happy with my players,” he said.

“Spanish football is very strong. They win everything – Champions League, Europa League. Theirs is the best football in Europe and their national team have players from the top clubs. Of course they are one of the favourites.

“After 45 minutes, I told my players to have a bit more patience with the ball, because we lost it a lot and couldn’t counter-attack as we wanted. But it was very difficult to have the ball more. They couldn’t bring their club form to here, and that’s a shame. But Spain are on another level to us.

“I don’t think we’ll have to defend that much against the other teams. I hope we can get six points from the games we have left.”

Iniesta claimed the man-of-the-match award for his performance, and Vrba was left hugely impressed by a player he first spotted during a youth tournament in 2000, when Spain were beaten by Czech Republic 2-0.

“I saw Iniesta in Israel in the Under-16s. He’s an exceptional player. We managed to beat him there, but they beat us here,” he said.

There was a positive atmosphere throughout inside the ground and Vrba praised both sets of supporters for their behaviour, in light of the clashes between rival fans which have taken place in Marseille and Lille in the past week.

“The fans were excellent today, both sets,” he added. “They came to see football, not to fight, and I thank them.”

Mon 13 Jun, 2016
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