Vicente del Bosque is ‘moderately optimistic’ Spain can beat Italy in their Euro 2016 Round of 16 meeting and insisted the Azzurri aren’t defensive.
The match takes place on June 27 and came about due to La Roja’s final Group D game defeat to Croatia, which knocked the European champions into second place.
“I’m moderately optimistic, as always. We haven’t thought about anything and we haven’t relaxed, as the team against Croatia showed,” Del Bosque told AS, having faced the same opposition in the final of Euro 2012.
“Then we played without forwards, with more midfielders. Things change in four years, incorporating people, that’s the law of life. It’s not necessary to always invent your whole life. David Silva is a great player, Cesc Fabregas is a great player and he’s been with us for many years…if they’re in good physical shape then why do without them?
“Italy are very good defensively, but they also have attacking players. They have great wide players, two forwards and it’s true that with the defensive quartet, with three centre-backs and Daniele De Rossi, they are immovable but that doesn’t make them a defensive team.
“They’ve changed the midfield and are perhaps more direct than 2012. I don’t see them as defensive even though they have that label. The centre-backs do very well, they know each other well.”
The defeat to Croatia came via an Ivan Perisic goal and both Juanfran, who was opposite the Inter forward after Perisic switched flanks, and David De Gea, who was beaten at his near post, were criticised, but Del Bosque came to the individuals’ defence.
“We knew Perisic, he’s a great player and it’s one of those things in football. It seems unfair to accuse anyone specifically for the defeat. We failed to manage the last few minutes. This is what happens in football, it was impossible to fight against that,” the Coach continued, before turning to penalties after Sergio Ramos’ miss and the prospect of a knockout round shootout.
“I choose to let my players decide [who takes penalties]. It’s a sign of strength. They’re the main actors on the field. If there’s a penalty against Italy it’ll be the same.
“A penalty isn’t something you can train for. I could take a penalty now and be incredibly safe before no one is watching. If there’s tension, it’s different, you can’t train for it.”