Soccer

Coach De la Fuente lauds Spain's 'spirit of sacrifice'

SportPicksWin
Source
reuters.com
MUNICH, Germany, July 10 (Reuters) - Spain coach Luis de la Fuente hailed his team's quality and cohesion in coming from a goal down to beat France and reach the Euro 2024 final on Tuesday, a feat he took no credit for and said was all about his players' insatiable hunger for success. De la Fuente said his team had versatility and outstanding individual qualities, which when put together created a special brand of football that would be on show in Sunday's final, regardless of whether the opponent is England or Netherlands. "Our idea of football is based on our self-assurance. This is what we want to play, we want to play to our strengths. I know that we are able to play football, we've seen it throughout the tournament," he told reporters. "Individually they are fantastic but they offer the collective benefits of their individual qualities ... they always work for the common good, for the collective effort. "They are very generous in their efforts and work rate. This is just one more sign that this is an insatiable team, that they want to keep improving with the spirit of sacrifice." Spain went behind to an early goal from France's Randal Kolo Muani before teenager Lamine Yamal levelled with a brilliant strike in the 21st minute, then Dani Olmo added a second just a few minutes after in a spectacular first half. De la Fuente hit back at critics who had previously questioned some of his decisions and team selections, reminding them that he knew his players best after a long history with many of them. "I want you to know that this may surprise you more than it surprises us, because we knew the possibilities we had ... I know these footballers and I make my decisions based on how much I know them," he said. "It's not out of a whim. You've been asking for this player or this other player, when you don't know the history behind each and every one of them. We do know - me and the technical staff - and I know my players can give much more and they can improve and be even better." De la Fuente had special praise for Yamal, whose goal he described as "a touch of genius". "We all know who he is. We need to take care of him," he said. "I want him to work with the same humility, keep his feet on the ground in order to keep improving, learning with the same kind of attitude and that professionalism, that maturity that he shows on the pitch. "He looks like a much more experienced player to be honest but fundamentally I celebrate that he's in our team, that he's Spanish and that we count on him and I hope we can enjoy him for years to come."