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Spain is ready to ‘get muddy’ in the match against Italy, says De la Fuente

GELSENKIRCHEN (Germany), June 20 – Defending champions Italy may have won the opening match of the Euro 2024 against Albania with an unexpectedly attacking style of football, but Spain – their opponents today – are unfazed, says manager Luis de la Fuente.

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However, he made it clear that his team is not preparing for a game of finesse, but is preparing for something more like a battle.

“We are willing to get in the mud, dig deep in a quarry and be in the office for a day. Ready for anything,” De la Fuente told a press conference yesterday.

“We know what kind of football they play and how competitive they are, so we won’t be surprised. I expect a strong, aggressive Italy that will try to control possession. It is the most important match in the group stage.”

After beating Croatia 3-0, Spain share the lead in Group B with Italy and if one side comes out on top today they would progress to the round of 16 as pool winners. Croatia and Albania are bottom with one point apiece, after drawing 2-2 yesterday.

The rivalry between Spain and Italy goes back a long way, as no two countries have met each other more often at Euro tournaments. Today’s match marks the eighth time they have faced each other since 1960.

As they prepare for the fifth consecutive edition of the tournament, De la Fuente acknowledged that his side in Germany also play a different style of football than fans are used to.

Direct approach

With a faster, more direct approach than the possession-based ‘tiki-taka’ style that made them European champions in 2008 and 2012 as well as World Cup winners in 2010, De la Fuente believes the 2024 versions of both teams will be very similar. the way they play.

“We are very similar, they are also a team that is still developing, with many young players and a new coach, very competitive in their approach… When I see them it is like looking at ourselves in the mirror .” said De la Fuente.

“They are a team on the rise with a very good collective mentality. It will be a very balanced match between two traditional teams. It is a football classic, a match that could easily be a European Championship or World Cup final.”

Spanish midfielder Fabian Ruiz, who worked under Italian coach Luciano Spalletti at Napoli before moving to Paris Saint-Germain, shared De la Fuente’s views on the Azzurri who have won four World Cups.

“We know that Italy are an intense and aggressive team. Spalletti has given them a touch of quality because he wants his teams to value possession,” Fabian told a news conference.

“Spalletti likes to control possession and press high to take the ball from the opponent. The Italy he wants is aggressive.”

Although he would not reveal his line-up, De la Fuente said midfielder Rodri and captain Alvaro Morata, who suffered injuries against Croatia, were ready to play against Italy. – Reuters

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