Monday, July 15, 2024

Spain celebrate win ´like a Euros final´ after late Merino magic against Germany

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 5 Jul 2024

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Unai Simon acknowledged Spain would have to recover their focus amid celebrations of a quarter-final win over Germany that felt “like a Euros final”.

La Roja are still two victories from the Euro 2024 title, but they have cleared their greatest hurdle yet after beating the hosts 2-1 late in extra time on Friday.

Subsitute Mikel Merino headed a 119th-minute winner, with Spain earlier frustrated by a Florian Wirtz equaliser at the end of normal time.

Goalkeeper Simon was in no mood to talk down his side’s achievement, even if attention must soon turn to Tuesday’s semi-final.

“What we have achieved is historic, winning this game is like a Euros final,” he said.

“We have already celebrated, but we have to recover because in four days we have a semi-final.”

Spain and Germany had perhaps been the tournament’s two standout teams through the first four rounds of matches, and this meeting did not disappoint.

“It was the match we were all waiting for, between two of the best teams in the world,” said Merino.

“It could be a World Cup final or a European Championship final; the level of those who have come off the bench is very high.

“We have shown that we know how to suffer, that we have a great team.”

Spain suffered physically as well as mentally in a feisty encounter that saw 15 cards – the second-most in a Euros match – even if they gave as good as they got.

Robin Le Normand’s second yellow card of the finals will now see him miss the next round, with Dani Carvajal also banned. He was already set to sit out the semi-final even before a last-gasp second booking – and third of the tournament – saw him sent off.

Alvaro Morata also appeared to be suspended for a card from the bench in the aftermath of Merino’s goal, but the caution was later removed by UEFA.

Regardless, Spain coach Luis de la Fuerte is backing the players on the fringes of his squad to deputise in the same effective fashion as super sub Merino.

“Any of the 26 players are ready,” he said. “Each one has his role at the right time.

“I am very proud of these players. Tomorrow we will recover, and we will try to have as many players as possible.”

De la Fuerte might also be without Pedri through injury following a foul from Toni Kroos that was not punished with a card.

The Barcelona midfielder was wiped out in the opening minute of the match and soon had to be replaced by Dani Olmo, who himself stepped up with the opening goal and an assist for Merino.

“Pedri was in pain,” De la Fuerte said. “I think it was a red card [for Kroos].

“Whether Pedri is on the pitch or off [for the rest of the tournament], he’s going to keep contributing.”

However, the coach added of Germany’s rugged approach: “These are games like that, when you’re playing for so much, at this stage, you have to use all your weapons. I have no complaints about German football.”

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