SPAIN might have won Group C to secure a Euro 2012 quarter-final against France, but the world and European champions are under siege.
Accused in the Spanish media of failing to live up to their star billing, with rival players and managers suggesting that the style which has delivered success in their last two major tournaments is no longer enough, coach Vicente del Bosque is under pressure to change his approach for Saturday’s clash with the French in Donetsk.
Interrogated for facing Italy without a recognised forward and then questioned over his faith in Fernando Torres, Del Bosque has |complained of Spain “not appreciating what we have” and suggesting the country has gone “from poor to rich” on the football pitch.
But while debate rages over Del Bosque’s apparent stubbornness in Spain, his squad remain firmly behind the former Real Madrid coach.
“I don’t understand the criticisms, I don’t share the criticisms,” claimed goalkeeper Victor Valdés.
“We just need to concentrate on our quarter-final against France. Del Bosque has got it right so far, so we need to all pull together to win the match.
”Del Bosque is calm and relaxed. We are concentrating on our work, on our training. The coach is happy with the work we’re doing and our performances. We mustn’t forget that our opponents are also out here to win.
“But our focus is on protecting our team from outside influences. The negative criticism and this is what Mr Del Bosque is concentrating on.”
But for a late goal by Jesus Navas in Monday’s 1-0 victory over Croatia in Gdansk, Spain would have been preparing to face England in Kiev on Sunday, rather than France, seen by many as Spain’s bogey team.
But Navas, who could replace Torres in the starting line-up on Saturday, insists Spain remain confident.
He said: “France will make the game as difficult as possible for Spain and we have to be ready for whatever comes.
“But we’re not feeling any pressure. We finished top of our group, so I’m looking forward to the match. The players, the team have great faith in each other and that’s what is vital.”