Vicente del Bosque has looked ahead to a busy 2013 and explained the true challenge he faces in introducing new players to the Spanish national team.
The Coach took Spain to the European Championship title in Poland and Ukraine during last summer and, in an interview with AS, reflected on how it has been another memorable year for La Roja.
“It’s been a good year for the national team. Winning the European Championship, the second in a row after that won with Luis [Aragones] in 2008, was a challenge and we have succeeded,” he enthused.
“But we should not wallow in what is already behind us if we want to maintain our level for the future. Personally I am proud of that title, the Euros, it was a joy for the country at a difficult time, but I said at the time that it would not solve the [economic] problems in Spain.”
Del Bosque was asked to identify the key ambition for 2013.
“The first goal is to get a place for the World Cup in Brazil. It is what we have to make certain of. In March we have two decisive matches, against Finland and then against France.
“To win against Finland will give us peace of mind to go to Paris in a match that could be decisive, without forgetting that we cannot afford any carelessness in the qualification stage against opponents that theoretically are easier to face, because that would be fatal.”
The Coach was asked his opinion on Spain having to qualify for the World Cup despite being competition holders.
“If before the 2010 World Cup we had been offered the chance to win it in exchange for having to still qualify for 2014 then we would have all said yes, definitely. So I should not complain. First because it is the norm and second because it is not practical, so it is no use.
“FIFA’s policy is that only the host country avoids qualification and that is something that we have to accept. What we need to do is qualify and then go to Brazil 2014 and do our best and if we can, defend the title.”
Before Brazil 2014 comes the Confederations Cup in the same country during 2013. Del Bosque was asked how he will be approaching the warm-up tournament.
“With all due respect and with the great enthusiasm. It is a trophy that Spain has won only once, which we are required to be involved in as our continental champion and the world title holders. The Confederations Cup is interesting. For Spain the 2009 edition served us much for helping us to win the 2010 World Cup. Losing to the United States in the semi-finals in 2009 was a lesson that helped us understand 2010. In the end, all these experiences help towards the World Cup. I hope that we take the Confederations Cup seriously and go there to compete with the best team and with the good intention of winning.”
The former Real Madrid man has changed few players in the squad over the year.
“Do we have a stable block? Yes. I think this group is well travelled. The important thing is that these players maintain the ambition to win and not settle for what they already have. But there is evidence and they are capable.
“They demonstrated that this summer, when they won the European Championship after winning the World Cup. And it has been demonstrated by keeping La Seleccion top of the FIFA World Rankings for the past five years.
“If you win a World Cup or European Championship, it can be explained away as a good month, but to be number one for five years says even more.”
Del Bosque has recently hinted at introducing a few new faces to La Roja in 2013, particularly in the forward positions with the likes of Michu and Iago Aspas commented upon.
“We try to consider it in every list. We try to be fair, but you can never please everyone. The tricky part in the selection is not calling new players, but making room. For someone else will have to come out.
“And those here have shown they are capable. It’s not easy. But still, I am very aware of what I have seen, of Michu, Aspas and Thiago [Alcantara]…of all those players who earn the right on the field, we are aware of them.
“We look at both those who follow the logical steps through the Under-21 system, as is the case with Thiago, [Iker] Muniain, Ander Herrera and others, and those who are emerging later on, such as Michu and Benat [Etxebarria].”