Thursday, July 25, 2024

De la Fuente refutes comparison to Spain glory days despite strong Euro 2024 start

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Jun 2024

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Spain may have breezed through to the Euro 2024 knockout stages but Luis de la Fuente refused to compare his side to the dominant La Roja team that lifted European and World Cup glory.

De la Fuente’s side have eased through Group B, making it to the last 16 with a game to spare after beating Croatia 3-0 and Italy 1-0.

That dominance has left some comparing the current crop of Spain stars to the side that triumphed at the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship two years later.

De la Fuente says there can be no such praise yet, however, as his new-look Spain squad have not achieved anything.

“We have a long way to go to catch up with that national team you mentioned because they won the Euros,” De La Fuente said at a pre-match press conference on Sunday ahead of Monday’s meeting with Albania.

“We need to improve in every area. That may seem negative but we have to keep improving. That’s our goal from day to day.

“The good news is there’s huge room for improvement, possibly infinite or maybe there’s a limit. That’s what makes us feel very optimistic.”

Indeed, the triumphant Spain side from yesteryear included the likes of David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, as well as Iker Casillas and Carles Puyol further back.

Rodri has taken a Xavi-like role in midfield but will be suspended for the next clash with Albania, where De la Fuente insists Spain will not rest on their laurels.

“We’re only focusing on winning because we want to win every match,” the former La Roja youth coach added.

“We want to send out what we feel is the best side. We have complete confidence in our 26 players here. Everyone has a chance to play here at a high level, so I’m very calm about that.”

Spain and France are the only sides to have not conceded yet at this tournament, despite the likes of England and Germany also being touted as pre-Euros favourites.

De la Fuente expects the favourites to soon click into gear, though.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the real quality of certain teams yet,” he continued. “Some of them have reached a strong competitive level straight away while others that some may call favourites or contenders, they haven’t yet got going fully.

“When you head into the knockout phase, there’s no room for error. So I think that once the last 16 begins, I think we’ll see the real potential of every team.”

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