Euro 2024: Spain coach plays down favourites tag after topping group | Football News - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Euro 2024: Spain coach plays down favourites tag after topping group

Jun 28, 2024 11:19 AM IST

Spain’s 1-0 win over Albania saw them finish their Group B fixtures with three wins, without conceding a goal

Mumbai: Spain’s coach Luis de la Fuente rang in ten changes to his starting eleven. La Roja, already assured of a round of 16 spot in Euro 2024 after beating Croatia and Italy, could afford that luxury when they took on Albania on Monday night. A 1-0 win completed a smooth run as they topped Group B with the maximum nine points.

TOPSHOT - Spain's forward #11 Ferran Torres celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Albania and Spain at the Duesseldorf Arena in Duesseldorf on June 24, 2024. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP) (AFP)
TOPSHOT - Spain's forward #11 Ferran Torres celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Albania and Spain at the Duesseldorf Arena in Duesseldorf on June 24, 2024. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP) (AFP)

Despite fielding a second-string side, Spain were in control at the Dusseldorf Arena, after taking an early lead through striker Ferran Torres.

For the first time, Spain finished the group stage at the Euro without conceding a goal. After their title winning run in 2008, it was the second time they have won all three of their group games. In fact, they’ve lost just one of their previous 15 games in the opening stage of this tournament. Such has been their dominance that in their last 11 competitive matches, they have 10 wins and a draw.

For de la Fuente, there would have been some nerves after leaving Alvaro Morata, Rodri and Dani Carvajal on the bench. In the first five minutes of the contest, the team in red dominated possession, but it was Albania on Monday night. Sylvinho’s side had just one point after a draw with Croatia – they lost to Italy -- and needed to take the initiative. But it didn’t take long for Spain to grab control of the pace and start exerting pressure.

In the 13th minute, Dani Olmo got on the end of a long ball before playing a wonderfully weighted pass behind Albania’s backline. Torres, moving in from the right, timed his run to perfection and finished off the move with a sublime first-time shot that curled into the far corner. It was clinical play out of nowhere, serving a reminder of how devastating Spain can be if they take a more direct approach.

From there, Albania were playing catch-up throughout and their struggle to keep possession continued. They had four shots on target, which was one more than what Spain managed, but they lacked precision in the final third of the pitch. The first of their big chances came just before half time when Kristjan Asllani struck cleanly from 20 metres out to force a diving save from David Raya. The Arsenal goalkeeper was called into action again after the hour mark when substitute Armando Borja’s volley was on target.

Spain brought on Morata and Lamine Yamal soon after to have fresher legs and more creativity up front. With time running out and their qualification hopes hanging by a thread, Albania tried their best to keep pushing forward but Spain were resolute in defence and didn’t let them create any clear-cut chances.

“We have a route ahead of us and we’re playing phenomenally,” said Torres after winning the player of the match award. “We’re a family, very tightly knit. The thing about this team is that everyone is ready to be in the first XI. Players coming off the bench are very important as well because lots of goals have been scored at the end of games. I want to make selection decisions difficult for the coach.”

On Spain being rated as the favourites, coach de la Fuente said: “The best 16 teams in Europe will be in the next round, so I give no importance to us being favourites. One day you can be at the top, the next you can be nothing. Let’s not put extra pressure on these players.”

Watch Euro 2024 Live on OTTplay Premium

Catch every big hit, every wicket with Crickit, a one stop destination for Live Scores, Match Stats, Quizzes, Polls & much more

Catch all the Latest Football matches score updates alongwith EPL 2024 Schedule , ISL 2024 Schedule and other related updates on ISL 2024 Points table on The Hindustan Times website and App
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, July 24, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On