Luis de la Fuente and Rodri on Spain-France clash: ‘The referee must be there to implement the rules’

Spain manager Luis de la Fuente has called on the referee to ensure that France do not cross the line in their Euro 2024 semi-final, having lost Pedri to a physical challenge from Toni Kroos on Friday. He also asked his side for more control against Les Bleus.

Before the match, France midfielder Adrien Rabiot told the press that 16-year-old Lamine Yamal will ‘have to do more’ to reach the final, which de la Fuente was asked about.

“It is a part of the game, a psychological and intimidating part. Football is complex. Lamine has to continue being himself and continue learning. As they get to know him they will make fewer concessions, but the referee must always be there to apply the rules.”

That said, Lamine Yamal showed little sign of being cowed by Rabiot’s words, at least based on his Instagram. De la Fuente did call on his forwards to be effective in front of goal though.

“We have great raw materials, the footballers impact the approach. We try to maximise the potential of our players. We have fast players, with one on one ability, who can finish… We have tried to instill that. We ask them to finish the plays, that is what that brings you closer to the goal.”

And warned that they did not want to get into a punch-for-punch bout with France, given their counter-attacking prowess – and of course the threat of Kylian Mbappe.

“We don’t know the result. A back and forth game doesn’t suit us. We are prepared to have control although we do well on the counterattack. They are totally different styles. We have to be vigilant and pay attention to losing the ball. It will be a very open game.”

Manchester City’s Rodri Hernandez also spoke to the press ahead of the match, and said that none of Spain’s ‘golden generation’ started off as legends, before reminiscing about their Euro 2008 victory.

“I was a kid, a big fan. We have the feeling that we can be champions. We have experience and being here, we have worked very hard,” Rodri told MD.

Generally considered the player that sets the tone and tempo for La Roja, Rodri was also keen for his side to manage the game better than against Germany, as they let the hosts back into it with 15 minutes to go.

“We are vertical, versatile, with different players. We have played very different games, we have interpreted the situations very well. Against Germany we could have managed the advantage on the scoreboard better, but we are a very complete team.”

One of the major talking points about Spain’s line-up ahead of the match has been who will go up against Kylian Mbappe. With Dani Carvajal suspended, Jesus Navas is the natural choice at right-back, although some would perhaps feel more comfortable with Nacho Fernandez there. That said, de la Fuente himself has noted that he does not think Mbappe is at full capacity, albeit he nuanced that by saying Mbappe at 80% is the same as many others at 100%.

Tags Euro 2024 France Luis de la Fuente Manchester City Rodri Hernandez Spain La Roja
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