• Thursday, July 25, 2024

FOOTBALL

Could have beaten Georgia 9-1: Spain coach after La Roja make Euro quarters

La Roja fell behind through Robin Le Normand’s own goal but bounced back strongly to claim a 4-1 victory in Cologne.

Spain’s goalkeeper Unai Simon concedes an own goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 round of 16 match between against Georgia at the Cologne Stadium in Cologne, Germany, on June 30, 2024. (Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: India Weekly

SPAIN coach Luis de la Fuente said his team could have beaten Georgia 9-1 as they eased through to the Euro 2024 quarter-finals on Sunday (30) to face hosts Germany.

La Roja fell behind through Robin Le Normand’s own goal but bounced back strongly to claim a 4-1 victory in Cologne and created several big chances against the tournament’s surprise package.

Rodri, Fabian Ruiz, Nico Williams and Dani Olmo struck for Spain, while 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal missed two clear openings which could have seen him crowned the youngest ever Euros goalscorer.

Read: Bellingham, Harry Kane give England thrilling win over Slovakia

“We’re very happy because we know what it takes to be here, that’s been shown by what the other teams have gone through,” De la Fuente told Spanish television.

“(The result) was deceptive because it could have been 8-1 or 9-1. We had to suffer, counter-attacking is their weapon.

Read: Hosts Germany rout Denmark to reach Euro 2024 quarters

“They didn’t manage to get a shot on target and we put ours away, so we’re very happy.”

Joint record three-time Euros champions Spain now face the tournament’s other form team, Germany, in the quarter-finals on Friday.

De la Fuente told reporters he expects a close game against the hosts in Stuttgart.

“Germany is a great team, with great individuals of a high level, some of the best in the world,” said the 63-year-old.

“They are well organised and disciplined, but they will have in front of them a very similar team, with a lot of commitment, well organised, hard to overcome, very hungry, very ambitious.

“It will be a very balanced, even game and at this level, it will be the details that determine it for one team or the other. We have to keep working like we have been, and keeping focussing on our strengths and keep improving — we are not perfect.”

De la Fuente sang the praises of his players after they stayed calm despite falling behind and produced 35 shots, while restricting Georgia to four with none on target.

“I don’t want to offend anyone, but I think we have the best team and the best players. Does that mean we will win (the competition)? No, but we will fight for it,” added De la Fuente, who led Spain to Nations League glory last year after an 11-year trophy drought.

“It doesn’t guarantee anything, we know that, but we have footballing strength with talent, quality, commitment, and players who are buying in, and that’s something very important.”

Yamal threatened throughout but despite another bright display from the Barcelona winger, De la Fuente said he could still improve significantly.

“He had a great game but he could have done much better, taken his time in some moments — we have to invite him to have more calm,” said the coach.

“But he is 16 and in a period of learning, and this game will stand him in good stead for that.

“He is lucky he’s living through this so young and is surrounded by great players who are helping him a lot.”

(AFP)

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