Vicente del Bosque unapologetic about possession football
VICENTE del Bosque defended Spain’s style of play on the eve of their European Championship semi-final with Portugal, defying critics who say their possession-based football is boring.
Tonight at the Donbass Arena, Spain will be just one victory away from becoming the first team since the West Germany team of the 1970s to reach three successive championship finals.
However, they have come under fire for not dazzling as they did when winning the trophy four years ago. Del Bosque, who took over as coach after that victory and guided a more subdued Spain to their first World Cup triumph two years ago, described the contest with Portugal as “the most important match of our lives”.
“Let’s hope that we can continue this way going forward so that Spain stays among the elite in world football,” Del Bosque said. “We’re talking about a great era when we have used the same style for years and which has yielded all of our achievements.”
Spain have won their last six knockout round games at major tournaments by a combined score of 7-0. They have shown patience and maturity to break down opponents who nearly always “park the bus,” or take a completely defensive approach.
“I would prefer if they play back in their own half, it’s a satisfaction for us to keep possession,” Del Bosque said of the Portuguese. “They have enough players that can provide alternatives to their attack but I would like it if they played in a defensive way because we have solutions to combat that.”
Andres Iniesta also leapt to Spain’s defence as they look to eliminate their Iberian rivals from a second straight major tournament and bid to become the first team to retain the European crown.
“Football is great for this reason, people don’t always like the same thing, don’t agree on everything, that’s the diversity of opinions,” the Spanish midfielder said. “When a team wants to attack and comes up against an opponent that sits back and tries to close the space and not try to create its own chances, that’s not always the football you want to watch. It’s easy to forget that only a few years ago this style is what changed the story of Spain.”
Cristiano Ronaldo presents Portugal’s most dangerous scoring threat.
He has netted three times in Portugal’s last two games and is one goal from setting his country’s all-time European Championship scoring record, at seven.
But he has never found the net against Spain in two previous competitive fixtures.
“We intend to throw him off his game. The best example of that is the second round win at the World Cup, where we managed the better result,” Del Bosque said of a 1-0 win over Portugal in Johannesburg.
Spain also downplayed thoughts that they may be more fatigued than their opponents, who have had an extra 48 hours to recover from their quarter-final victory over the Czech Republic.
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