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European Football Championship: “The beloved enemy”: Spain’s captain Morata against Italy

European Football Championship: “The beloved enemy”: Spain’s captain Morata against Italy
European Football Championship: “The beloved enemy”: Spain’s captain Morata against Italy

Álvaro Morata feels more valued in Italy than in Spain. The Furia Roja striker has already made his displeasure clear ahead of the group summit between the two European Championship title candidates.

Álvaro Morata’s connection to Italy is his love for his wife Alice, and generally “a lot of affection” – but also memories of pure hatred. When the Spanish captain and goalscorer drives into the stadium in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday (9 p.m./ZDF/Magenta TV) for the European Championship group summit between the Furia Roja and the Squadra Azzurra, many emotions will come to the surface for the often controversial 31-year-old.

Morata will probably never forget July 6, 2021 at Wembley Stadium in London: As a substitute, he equalized the score to 1:1 in the European Championship semi-final against Italy in the 80th minute – but then his nerves failed him in the penalty shootout. The then striker for Juventus Turin, where he played from 2014 to 2016 and from 2020 to 2022, became a big bogeyman in his home country.

His Alice, an Italian influencer, made public the hate messages that she and her famous husband had to read online. Morata is still not a fan favorite to this day. He often has to listen to boos at home games of the national team. “I play better in the national team when it’s not in Spain,” he says quite openly now.

Twin sons don’t understand the anger

Morata recently complained vehemently about a lack of respect and appreciation in an interview with the radio station “Cadena Ser”. With regard to his uncertain future at Atlético Madrid, he said: “For me, the easiest thing is not to play in Spain. For my life, for what I have to experience when I go out on the streets in our country.” His five-year-old twins Alessandro and Leonardo “don’t understand why there are people who are so angry with their father.”

However, Morata was able to celebrate at the tournament opener against Croatia (3:0). After his seventh goal in total at the European Championships, he is in third place in the list of goalscorers, along with the Englishman Alan Shearer and the Frenchman Antoine Griezmann, behind France’s Michel Platini (9) and Portugal’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (14). Morata now wears the captain’s armband in coach Luis de la Fuente’s team with great pride.

“I had to fight hard to get to where I am today,” said the attacker. Spain with Morata was also knocked out by Italy at the 2016 European Championship (0:2 in the round of 16). “So I know how strong they are, especially when it matters, it’s in their DNA. But I’m sure they won’t like playing against Spain either,” explained Morata.

Respect at Juve, disdain in Madrid

“Álvaro Morata, the beloved enemy,” was the headline in “Tuttosport” before the group summit of the two major football nations. Italy’s current team manager Gianluigi Buffon, who played with the center forward for a long time at Juve, praised him as a “great player.”

By the way, he was always treated well at Juve, said Morata. The 74-time national player (36 goals) has a contract in Madrid that runs until 2026. “Last summer it would have been easy to leave Atlético. I had better financial offers from big clubs, but I have the illusion of being successful with Atlético,” he said about his future. “When I see that Atlético wants to sign eight strikers, I see that I am not a priority at the club. I can’t stay here if I don’t play.”

Morata does not currently have to fear for his place in the national team. While Italy’s head coach Luciano Spalletti is looking for a number 9, the naturalized Argentinian Mateo Retegui has not been convincing recently and Gianluca Scamacca from Atalanta Bergamo was largely harmless in the 2-1 win against Albania, Spain still has the eternal Morata.

Daring comparison

He generally misses the support for the selection in the country of super clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. “There are many Spaniards who want the Selección to do badly. That doesn’t happen in other countries,” he criticized in an interview. But he won’t complain much, said Morata, who may end his career in the Spanish selection after the European Championships, and made a broad comparison: “Not everyone even likes Jesus, there’s nothing you can do about that. There are people who say he exists, others say he doesn’t.”

Source: Stern

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