Spain are coming to terms with a brutal elimination at the hands of Morocco on penalties, sending La Roja careering out of the tournament. It is the second straight tournament where they have exited at the knockout stage in the first round, on penalties, after going out to Russia in 2018.
Their penalties were poor and Morocco dispatched their own spot kicks with ease. Speaking to Mundo Deportivo after the match, Rodri Hernandez struggled to sugar-coat matters.
“Football has these things. You have to compete and we have fallen on penalties. We have tried but it has been complicated. Penalties are like that. We have not been successful, we have not scored any of the penalties. It’s one of the worst days.”
The Manchester City man also complained of the lack of ambition from Morocco, who dug in and defended for most of the match.
“We expected eleven guys at the back, as in almost every game. It’s complicated, sometimes frustrating. I wish someone up there would have helped us a little bit. Football is cruel sometimes, we deserved it [to win]. Maybe it wasn’t enough, I have no idea. I think we deserved to go through.”
“Football does not understand justice. It only matters when the ball goes in, and when it doesn’t…”
Rodri’s words have not been reflected in the general interpretation of many. Spain had just two shots on target, the same as Morocco. Equally many praised the Moroccan defensive performance, which barely gave Spain room to breathe.
La Roja’s inability to break banked defences down has been a problem for them ever since Euro 2012, often causing them heartbreak in tournaments. No doubt the question will be asked in the coming days about whether Spain need to adapt their style.