Zoff: Spain not as strong as before

Legendary former Italy goalkeeper Dino Zoff has claimed Spain are ‘not the same’ as they were during their ‘golden era’ of international titles.

La Roja won back-to-back European Championship crowns and the 2010 World Cup but Zoff – who won the World Cup at the home of Real Madrid, where the two nations meet on Saturday – believes they are now beatable.

“Spain? They have very good players, like always, but they’re not the same as during their golden era,” Zoff told an interview with Diario AS.

“They no longer have the unbeatable impression they gave before.

“Result on Saturday? No, but I can say that I’m very optimistic.

“The Santiago Bernabeu? It’s a stadium that gives us luck, and it’s hopefully confirmed on Saturday.

“Obviously, a World Cup Final has no point of comparison with this match, but there’s still a lot riding on it.

“First thing that I remember? The happiness of that night. It’s a memory that’ll always live in my head.

“I’ve only gone back there once, with Lazio in 2001, as a Coach. We lost 3-2 to Madrid. But nothing can compare to that night.

“It was like touching the sky with your hands. Being a captain at 40 years old and winning a World Cup is the pinnacle.

“However, I was never interested in being remembered as a legend. I repeat, remembering the past is nice, but it ‘happened’. You have to look forward.

“I was so excited that I wanted to kiss Queen Sofia, but I realised just in time that it wouldn’t have been right. Good job I didn’t!

“How I was treated by the Spanish fans? Always very well. Although honestly, excluding some parts of the world, Italy always receives a warm welcome.

“Spain fans supported Italy in the Final? We’re of Latin ilk too, so we’re similar… Something unites us, so it was normal.”

Tags 2018 World Cup Dino Zoff Italy Spain