‘Spain must mix tiki-taka with fury’

Koke believes Spain must mix their ‘tiki-taka’ style of play with the “fury” that makes them La Furia Roja when they face Italy at Euro 2016 on Monday.

Spain’s 2-1 defeat to Croatia in their final group game condemned the country to a tricky last-16 clash with Italy, who are unbeaten in their last five meetings with La Roja, and Koke made it clear his side needed to complement their famed passing game with a ruthless streak.

“Italy are a very complicated rival. In one game, when you play in the second round, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final, it’s very difficult,” the Atletico Madrid midfielder told Marca.

“Defensively they are very good and their attackers push up a lot. It’ll be a very difficult match, but we’re Spain and if we have a good game and play as we know then it’s very difficult for a team to beat us. We’re highly motivated and raring to go.

“We have the competitive gene, there are people here who want to win. Although it seems Spain play with the ball often and don’t want to attack, this isn’t so. We have possession so we can attack and tire our opponents.

“In the first two games and in the third, there were moments of very good play from us. Spain are showing they have the competitive gene.

“You never know what can happen in a game. Even though you may have much more experience than, your opponents can still win.

“It’s true that we’re a group who have played in many finals and the Champions League, and we’re used to these types of games, but they also have very good players so it’ll be a very difficult match for both teams.

“After the [defeat to Croatia], we talked and said we all had to be more united and stronger than ever before.

“I think that defeat has made us stronger and against Italy we have to prove it on the pitch. We have to play with hunger in order to win and reach the quarters.

“Some people compare [Atleti] with Italy, but we sometimes play good football at Atletico, with long spells of possession. Italy are more direct than tleti.

“We have to learn to have control of the game and must know how to manage the result. [Croatia] caught us on a counter with three minutes remaining.

“We have to defend with the ball. We had the ball but were caught on the counterattack and our sides were open.

“We must improve to avoid Italy’s counters because they will be tight [at the back], so their play must be stopped.

 “’Tiki-taka’ has served us very well and given us many successes over the years, and if we can also show shades of La Furia Roja then I think the team would be perfect.” 

Tags Euro 2016 Italy Koke Spain