Vicente del Bosque insists there were no issues among the Spain squad in the eight years he was Coach, despite Cesc Fabregas and Pedro Rodriguez incidents.
Del Bosque has spoken to Publico about his time with La Roja, having retired following Euro 2016, and was asked about what went wrong at the 2014 World Cup when Spain, the holders, were knocked out at the group stage.
“Nothing happened, it’s just that we weren’t as good as Chile and the Netherlands. So we didn’t progress. Chile hounded us and trampled us on the pitch. In the case of the Netherlands, they were superior to us but only in the second half,” he recalled.
“The mood wasn’t as bad as they said, not at all. I don’t understand that. We’ve not had a problem in eight years. The Cesc incident in Brazil or more recently Pedro in France, they happen in any family. We’ve never had a problem.
“The coexistence has always been extraordinary, especially for the players who didn’t get minutes. Both those who were alternates in Brazil and then in France, Koke, Hector Bellerin, Cesar Azpilicueta, they’ve performed impressively.”
Del Bosque was asked outright if he regrets taking Diego Costa to Brazil only shortly after he was eligible to play for Spain, having not picked the Chelsea striker to go to France.
“No, indeed, I wouldn’t rule him out for the future of the Spain team. It’s not a decision that is mine anymore and it’s one the future Coach will have to take. I don’t want to meddle,” he replied.
“In France, the truth is the first two games were promising. Even the match against Croatia, until they scored. Then came Italy, who I thought were a great team that went unnoticed. In fact, the game against Italy was the most prepared of the 144 games I had with the national team. Their shrewdness made them a unique rival, but they were superior to us.
“I understand the criticism for not changing the team, but if we had changed it, we would have been criticised. In South Africa we hardly changed, we always maintained the goalkeeper, seven behind and the forward. We didn’t change practically anything, just enough, and nobody complained.
“I don’t feel persecuted, that would be unfair. There is a group that wants Spain to lose. They’re the minority, because the rest are fantastic. But they’re waiting for the smallest thing, to cut off your head. Now that Spain aren’t winning, they appear more frequently. Fortunately they are very few.”