Vicente Del Bosque acknowledges the role played by Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique in the Spain squad and values Basque and Catalan contributions.
Del Bosque was speaking to the Daily Telegraph and, as well as discussing Iker Casillas’ situation with La Roja, offered thoughts on his likely first-choice centre-back pairing.
“For me these central defenders are key players in the national squad because they are mature players, who know the game,” he explained.
“Often veterans forget the lessons they learnt when they were young. But these two haven’t – they know how to press an opponent when he’s got his back turned, how to be on guard duty in the centre of the park.
“This the kind of solid defence that can help the team win.”
Del Bosque added that while Ramos and Pique are closely associated with Real Madrid and Barcelona – the former Los Blancos’ captain, the latter a Catalan native – they consider the bigger picture too.
“I trust in their intelligence so that they don’t just speak up on behalf of their respective clubs but have a wider perspective of who they represent,” he noted.
“They are natural leaders and I am trying to make them key players in the national squad.”
Pique is one of a handful of Catalans in the squad to play Italy and Romania and is joined by Basques such as Aritz Aduriz and Mikel San Jose.
Del Bosque stressed in light of separatist movements in the regions that Catalans and Basques have been crucial to Spain’s success, and football can bring the provinces closer to the rest of the country.
“I think football can contribute to building relations,” he revealed
“The Basques have made a huge contribution to Spanish football historically just as Catalonia’s major club Barcelona has given us some of our best players.
“But it’s true that my team doesn’t play either in San Mames in Bilbao or [Camp Nou] in Barcelona.
“If I had my way I would play there – but we are not invited.”