Fernando Hierro has a plan to combat Russia’s threat and end Spain’s miserable record against host nations at major tournaments.
Hierro, who took over from Julen Lopetegui the day before the World Cup got underway, watched as his side limped through Group B after winning just one of their three games, and that solitary success was a scratchy 1-0 defeat of Iran.
But he is confident of an improvement against Russia to give Spain their first win against either a World Cup or European Championship host at the ninth attempt.
He said: “We have a clear plan in mind. We know Russia’s qualities but we have faith in our work and we have players that anyone of them can really make a difference.
“We have analysed them, we are doing everything we can. The team have trained extremely well, my players are fit physically and mentally.
“We have strengths and weaknesses like any team. We’ve had to face difficult situations, we were twice losing against Portugal and we managed to react. We had a similar situation against Morocco.
“Tomorrow we start a new tournament. Often the better team is the one that goes back home. We need to believe in ourselves.”
Concluye la conferencia de prensa de Fernando Hierro y David Silva. En unos minutos, todos los detalles en https://t.co/bOzaKKwQtR.
Ahora… ¡A ENTRENAR!♂ pic.twitter.com/2bewsxzfPy
— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) June 30, 2018
Hierro laughed off Spain’s awful record against hosts, adding: “Can you give me some good news please?
“Records are there to be broken. Why are we looking in the mirror? Why look what happened eight, 12 years ago? Only what matters is what happens on Sunday.
“We know they’ll have a lot of support but we also know the game is decided on the pitch.
“My players are used to playing in full grounds, with a lot of pressure, away from home.”
Spain’s displays have attracted plenty of criticism back home but veteran midfielder David Silva – a survivor of their 2010 World Cup-winning squad – says it is nothing new.
“We are professionals and we need to change people’s opinion,” he said.
“I’ve been here 12 years and am used to criticism. In terms of how we played, we played well in the first game and part of the second. You saw against Iran, they sat back and make it hard to move forward.
“We could have scored more but Portugal also struggled against them.
“There’s always criticism, we just try to play the best we can.
“This is a World Cup, there is always a strong rival in front of us and almost all teams are having a hard time, so what we have to do is correct our mistakes.
“Sometimes these teams park the bus and that makes it hard. Sometimes it can be hard to shine.”
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