Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Spain flexibility has made them team to beat at Euro 2024, claims Rodri

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Jul 2024

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Spain’s tactical flexibility under Luis de la Fuente has been the key to their emergence as the outstanding team at Euro 2024, believes Rodri.

Some felt Spain could struggle after being drawn with Italy, Croatia and Albania in Group B, but they won all three group games and have continued to impress since then.

They thrashed Georgia 4-1 in the last 16 before overcoming hosts Germany 2-1 in extra time in the quarter-finals, teeing up Tuesday’s semi-final meeting with France.

The Opta supercomputer makes France (30%) and Spain (30%) favourites to lift the trophy on Sunday, ahead of England (23%) and the Netherlands (16%) on the other side of the draw.

Many believe Spain have played the best football at the tournament, and they lead all teams in Germany for expected goals (10.3 xG), shots (76) and shots on target (36).

However, La Roja only rank third for their average possession share (57%), behind Portugal (66%) and Germany (62%), with England joining those two teams in completing more passes than De la Fuente’s men.

Rodri believes being prepared to sacrifice the country’s traditional ‘Tika-Taka’ ideals against better opponents has been a key factor in their success this year.

“You have to know what you’re facing, what you can and can’t do. That’s what we have done best so far, we’ve played different teams and understood,” he told The Guardian.

“We’ve played a lot of teams that are good collectively: Italy, Croatia, Germany, teams that like to have the ball like we do, where we have had to understand and interpret, to accept that there are moments we won’t have it.

“In fact, we had less possession than some opponents. There were moments when we had to suffer, resist, be together.

“It’s important to see those moments, to understand them. Knocking out the hosts, Germany, is one of the hardest things there could be. In the end, we did it.”

The Manchester City star believes being prepared to suffer without the ball will also be key against pre-tournament favourites France, saying: “We have to approach this with the same mentality: play like a big team with the ball and a small team without it.

“They’re very strong physically, hard to overcome, great individuals. They play the way they want to play.”

Spain suffered a surprise defeat to Scotland early in their qualification campaign, but Rodri always had faith former under-21 boss De la Fuente would get things right.

“I always had a lot of confidence in this group. I knew the coach and I was convinced that with work and effort we would get it right,” he said.

“He understood that the team needed time to assimilate the ideas, two or three key concepts. Spain and City are similar philosophies but you adapt to the coach.

“Here we try to be a bit more vertical, without so much possession, but with enough possession to do damage to the opponents.”

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