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European Championship favourite Spain: Spain unbeatable with B-team – DFB camp groans

European Championship favourite Spain: Spain unbeatable with B-team – DFB camp groans
European Championship favourite Spain: Spain unbeatable with B-team – DFB camp groans

With impressive ease and personnel flexibility, Spain is dominating the preliminary round of the European Championship. In the quarter-finals, Germany could be their opponent. The thought of that does not trigger any excitement there.

Anyone who wanted to could interpret the words of Spain’s national coach Luis de la Fuente after the perfect European Championship preliminary round as a threat to the competition and to the possible quarter-final opponent Germany. In any case, the confidence of the three-time European champions is growing and growing.

“I know we are on the right track. We are getting better every day,” said de la Fuente after the 1-0 win in the last group match in Düsseldorf against Albania.

Three games, three wins, zero goals conceded – the only way to the title seems to be through La Furia Roja. For Germany, at least. In the quarter-finals on July 5th in Stuttgart, the German Football Association’s selection will face the strongest team in the tournament so far. And that is already causing groans in the DFB camp. “They’re really a good team – phew,” said DFB managing director Andreas Rettig before the last Spanish group game, which the Iberians won comfortably even with a B eleven and an XXL rotation with ten changes in the starting eleven. “I’m obviously impressed by the Spaniards,” said Rettig.

No matter who plays – Spain dominates

Not just him. The variability and depth of Spain’s squad is impressive. 25 of the 26 players in the squad have already played in the preliminary round. Only Alex Remiro, the third goalkeeper, has not yet played a minute in the European Championship. “Spain can even win in their pajamas,” commented the Spanish sports daily “Marca”.

“We deliberately wanted to use as many players as possible, and we managed that,” said de la Fuente, who not only saved the energy of his biggest stars. This gives every player the feeling of being important and, if necessary, is ready for the decisive knockout games.

Olmo shines and may have to go back to the bench

Like Dani Olmo against Albania, for example. The Leipzig player made his first start, was the best man on the pitch and set up the winning goal by Ferrán Torres (13th minute) with a dream pass. “A fantastic footballer,” enthused de la Fuente, but indicated that in the round of 16 on Sunday the stage will again belong to the other artists Lamine Yamal, Nico Williams and Rodri. “In a team, everyone has their role and he is an absolute team player. He thinks about the big picture and the team,” said the 63-year-old Spanish coach about Olmo.

Despite the many substitutions against Albania, the stability of the previously flawless defense was not lost. “We simply have a good balance between defense and offense,” said de la Fuente. “That is a collective achievement.”

Many experts have long considered the European champions of 1964, 2008 and 2012 to be the top favorites for the title. “We can all dream. We are the first to dream,” said de la Fuente, who has already made Spain’s U19 (2015) and U21 (2019) European champions, but has so far kept his players grounded. “We still have a long way to go. We’re looking at it from game to game,” said striker Torres from FC Barcelona.

Dominating preliminary round teams did not always win the title

In fact, there is still hope for the competition. Despite all the class and superiority in their play so far, La Furia Roja have only won 1-0 against Italy and Albania, although they could have easily won by more. Spain still has problems with effectiveness. In addition, in previous tournaments, teams that had excelled in the preliminary rounds have repeatedly failed in the knockout round sooner or later: Croatia and the Netherlands in the quarter-finals in 2008, Germany in the semi-finals in 2012, and in 2021 the Dutch again in the round of 16 and Belgium in the quarter-finals.

There are, however, counterexamples that even de la Fuente has not thought of yet. Because even if the national coach praised his team’s flawless preliminary round record of nine points and 5:0 goals as unique in the tournament’s history, it is of course not. Three years ago, Italy finished the preliminary round with three wins and even 7:0 goals and ended up becoming European champions. And in 2008, a confident group winner with three preliminary round wins ended up winning the title: Spain. “I was eight years old then. It was a great Euro,” said Torres mischievously. His eyes sparkled.

Source: Stern

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